The 8 Best High
Including collections tested and loved by our editors as well as professional chefs.
Laura Denby is a food writer and chef with six years of professional culinary experience. Find her work in Real Simple, Food Network, Better Homes & Gardens and more.
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Food & Wine / Williams Sonoma
Ask any chef what their favorite kitchen tool is — there’s a good chance they’ll say kitchen knives. Having sharp, sturdy, and lightweight kitchen knives is key to working more quickly and efficiently, and a high-quality knife can even prevent slicing accidents. With a properly sharpened chef's knife, your efficiency will drastically increase. “As a chef, I learned years ago that the most dangerous tool in a kitchen is an inferior quality, dull chef’s knife,” said Dustin Valette, Chef-Owner of The Matheson and Valette. Sharp knives are safer than dull knives because you don’t have to apply as much pressure when slicing and dicing. Having at least one high-quality knife is an easy way to streamline your food prep and make you a better cook. The only thing better than having one great knife is stocking up on a full set.
The best high-end knives should be sharp, lightweight, and durable, and since most shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher, they should also be easy to clean by hand. Longtime butcher and Senior Director of Meat Strategy at ButcherBox Nathan Burk says that knives range in quality and price due to materials or the method used to make them. “What’s important is that they are a good fit for your hand, you are confident with them, and they hold an edge well,” he added.
Having at least one high-quality chef’s knife is a must, but a set that allows you to tackle every cutting task is worth the investment, providing proper blades for peeling produce, slicing bread, carving meats, and more. Find a collection suitable for your needs by browsing our favorite knife sets based on our professional culinary experience, hands-on testing, and advice from chefs and culinary experts.
These hand-forged, high-carbon stainless steel knives have full-tang construction and sharp edges.
This set does not come with kitchen shears.
These Japanese knives combine a sharp edge with a lightweight, balanced handle. Each blade is hand forged and made from micro layers of high carbon stainless steel that create micro serrations to reduce friction while cutting. The Pakkawood handles are slip-free, comfortable to hold, and resistant to bacteria, plus they’re suitable for both right and left-handed users. This 7-piece set comes with a sleek and slim eight-slot storage block, so it doesn’t take up too much space on the countertop.
We love that this set comes with two chef’s knives, so you can switch between them depending on what project you’re working on. Plus, you get a paring knife, serrated knife, utility knife, and honing steel.
Price at time of publish: $1,280
This knife set comes with five handmade, full-tang essentials in three different colors.
It’s the priciest set on this list.
This high-end knife set includes five full-tang knives made from stainless steel. The hand-forged knives feature sharp blades that are resistant to chipping or rusting. After testing them in our kitchen, we ranked these as a top choice for their functionality, durability, and sharpness.
This set comes with one 8.7-inch chef’s knife, one 6-inch utility knife, one 4-inch paring knife, and one 8.7-inch bread knife. It includes all the essentials stashed away efficiently in a slim, space-saving knife block.
Price at time of publish: $2,128
Hand-forged and hand-sharpened, these full-tang knives are bolster-free to promote a pinch grip.
It doesn’t include a block to store them, so knives are stored on the included magnetic knife bar instead.
Designed by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller, these hand-forged knives are strong and durable. Made from fine-grained, high-alloy steel, each blade is specifically designed to have a strong edge that’s resistant to corrosion. Each knife is full tang, which helps promote balance and efficiency. “A full-tang construction promotes a stronger knife and extends the longevity of the blade exponentially,” says Valette.
After using them in our test kitchen, we were particularly impressed by their sharpness and the quality and durability of each knife. The 7-piece set comes with a 3.5-inch paring knife, a 7-inch utility knife, an 8-inch chef's knife, a 10-inch chef's knife, a 10-inch bread knife, a 10.5-inch carving knife, and an 18-inch walnut magnetic knife bar. This extensive collection can help you tackle any task in the kitchen.Price at time of publish: $796
The handles work for small and large hands, and the blades allow you to make paper-thin slices.
The sharpener and shears aren't the same quality as the knives.
These hand-hammered knives feature a traditional Japanese tsuchime finish, with hand-honed blades made from SG2 steel. The micro-carbide-powder steel offers superior hardness and durability with a sharp edge that retains its shape, and the D-shaped Pakkawood handles are specifically designed to fit securely in your palm and provide a slip-free grip.
The thin blades are true to traditional Japanese knife styles, and the lightweight feel is gentle on your wrists, enabling quickness and efficiency in the kitchen. This 7-piece set comes with a paring knife, Santoku knife, chef’s knife, bread knife, honing steel, kitchen shears, and a sturdy bamboo block to store them in.
Price at time of publish: $800
This set of 7 full-tang, high carbon steel knives come housed in a slim wood block that helps save counter space.
This set doesn’t come with a honing steel.
These heavy-duty knives are made from high-carbon stainless steel, so they’re stain-resistant with a sharp edge that won’t warp. The full-tang knives feature a reduced bolster, so you can easily pinch-grip while protecting your fingers. The contoured handles are easy to hold and promote a comfortable grip, while the triple rivets make the knife extra durable.
We love that this fully-equipped set also includes come-apart kitchen shears. Kitchen shears add a big layer of versatility, and the fact that they come apart for easier cleaning makes them extra functional.
Price at time of publish: $695
Sur La Table
Hollow handles that are filled with sand mean these stainless steel knives are exceptionally balanced.
The stainless steel handles can be slippery when wet.
Global knives are renowned by professional chefs because the single piece of metal makes the knives extra durable and easy to use. Each knife features a hollow handle filled with sand, so the lightweight handle is perfectly balanced with the blade. That means you can work quickly, efficiently, and over long periods without putting strain or pressure on your wrists. Each knife is made from one solid piece of stainless steel, with textured dots on each handle. Remember that although the dots provide texture for a more comfortable grip, the metal handle can be slippery when wet. Keep in mind that if you're more comfortable using left-handed kitchen tools, seek out the knives specifically sharpened to be used with your left hand.
Price at time of publish: $400
Courtesy of Misen
These full-tang knives are strong and durable and offer maximum versatility with just a few tools.
This set does not include a knife block, magnet, or roll for storage.
This knife trio comes in four colors to match any decor style. The blades are made from high-carbon steel, which helps preserve the sharpness of the edge and resist chipping or dents. The sloped bolster is perfect for using a pinch grip — the shape allows your fingers to sit safely and securely below the base of the blade.
The streamlined set comes with three essential knives that allow you to tackle various tasks while requiring minimal space for storage. This is the perfect set for anyone looking for a few reliable knives instead of a large, cumbersome block.
Price at time of publish: $170
This extensive set includes helpful extras like kitchen shears, a honing steel, and six steak knives.
The knife block is large, so it’s not the best choice for small kitchens.
This set from Zwilling is one of our favorites because it includes essential knives — like a chef’s knife and serrated knife — along with helpful additions like kitchen shears, a honing steel, and six steak knives. Though they’re not essential in every knife set, steak knives make a great addition to any cutlery collection. The curved blade allows for easy rocking and chopping, and the ergonomic bolster makes each knife easier to hold and maneuver.
This extensive set comes with a chef’s knife, bread knife, utility knife, Santoku, paring knife, peeler, small serrated knife, kitchen shears, honing steel, and six steak knives enclosed in an acacia wood block.
Price at time of publish: $1,000
The knives in the Shun Hikari 7-Piece Set are handcrafted in Japan, with durable carbon steel with sturdy, lightweight Pakkawood handles that are suitable for both left- and right-handed cooks. They’re sharp and versatile, and the set includes essential pieces in a slim, sleek block for beautiful countertop storage.
“The first thing to look for is whether or not the knife has a full tang,” says Burk. Full-tang construction means that the blade extends to the heel of the handle. When the knife is made from one solid piece of metal, it usually feels more balanced in your hand. To see if a knife is a full tang, look along the edge of the handle and at the back. If you can see metal running the entire knife’s length, you’ll know it’s full tang. “This shows you there is a roughly equal amount of metal in the handle as in the blade,” Burk added. Alternatively, knives that are not full tang simply fuse the blade to the handle, won’t feel as balanced in your hand, and can be subjected to more wear and tear.
High-carbon stainless steel is one of the best materials for high-end knives. High-carbon stainless steel retains a sharp edge, is easy to clean and maintain, and is durable against chipping or denting. Knives made from carbon steel are of professional quality and easy to sharpen. Alternatively, stainless steel is also an excellent material for home cooks because it’s easy to clean and rust-resistant.
Knife sets come in different quantities, so when selecting the right knife set for you, consider what tasks you do most often. There are many styles to choose from, and the best knife set for you will depend on how versatile you are in the kitchen and how often you plan to use your knives. At the minimum, every knife set should include one all-purpose chef’s knife, one paring knife, and one serrated knife. These three basics can tackle a wide range of jobs, whether you’re preparing protein, dicing vegetables, or slicing a loaf of bread.
In addition to the basics, a few other knife styles come in handy when preparing different types of food. For example, a deboning knife is a fantastic choice if you prepare a lot of fish. Additionally, kitchen shears can make several tasks much easier — from cutting herbs to breaking down a whole chicken. Lastly, some knife sets even include enough steak knives for six to eight people. Keep in mind when selecting a knife set that the more pieces you choose, the bigger your knife block will be and the more space it will take up on your countertop.
Knife sets come in different qualities and quantities, which directly impact price. “The material and method of forging will define if a knife is high-end,” says Burk. Hand-forged knives are typically more high-end than stamped steel. Therefore, hand-forged, full-tang knives made from carbon or stainless steel will be more expensive. Additionally, the more knives that come in a set, the more expensive it will be.
“Light in weight, strong steel, and great ergonomics are all qualities I look for in a high-quality knife,” said Valette. Lighter knives allow you to work more quickly and efficiently and eliminate unnecessary pressure and weight from your hands and wrists, which can cause pain and injury over time.
The best way to clean professional kitchen knives is to wash them by hand with soap and warm water and dried thoroughly after each washing. They should not be placed in the dishwasher.
Laura Denby is a food writer and former chef with a degree in culinary arts from the Institute of Culinary Education. After years of working as a chef in professional kitchens throughout the New York area, Laura now tests and reviews culinary equipment for sites like FoodNetwork.com, Forbes.com, People.com, and more. Laura has tested hundreds of pieces of cooking equipment, and she utilizes her professional culinary background to properly evaluate each product.Price at time of publish: $1,280Blade Material:Handle Material: Set Includes:Price at time of publish: $2,128Blade Material: Handle Material: Set Includes: Price at time of publish: $796 Blade Material: Handle Material: Set Includes: Price at time of publish: $800Blade Material:Handle Material: Set Includes: Price at time of publish: $695Blade Material:Handle Material: Set Includes: Price at time of publish: $400Blade Material:Handle Material: Set Includes: Price at time of publish:$170Blade Material:Handle Material: Set Includes: Price at time of publish:$1,000Blade Material:Handle Material: Set Includes: