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12 best knives and knife sets in 2024, tested by top chefs

Including the best steak knives, paring knives, bread knives and knife sets for prepping, dining and gifting.

Knives in a wooden block, three knives of different sizes and a set of steak knives.
Chop, chop: Splurge on the best knives and knife sets in 2024 now to streamline prep and dine with the finest.

When is the last time you took stock of your knives? After all, they’re among the most frequently used items when it comes to meal prep (read: slicing, dicing and chopping) and dining (right up there with kitchen tools and cookware). And there’s nothing like having a beautifully serrated knife to break bread, not to mention a sharp, shiny steak knife to cut a good fillet (or conversely, dull edges and tarnished metal to ruin an appetite). “Not only do great knives help elevate the dining experience, but rusting, chipping knives could actually be dangerous,” adds John Adler, head chef at Blue Apron.

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To help you cut through the clutter (see what we did there?), we tapped top chefs at big-name steakhouses and other restaurants across the nation for their favorite brands and blades in the biz. The winners are not only impressively sharp (of course) but durable, easy to clean and a pleasure to hold. From a No. 1 bestselling Henckels knife set for every day to sleek, handcrafted Laguiole beauties that are prime for gifting (albeit hard to give away), see below for a roundup of the best knives in 2024, including the best chef’s knives, the best bread knives, the best paring knives and the best knife sets, along with a few things to consider when choosing the right knives for you.

Best knives overall

Length: Various | Blade material: High-carbon stainless steel | Handle material: Polymer

So many great knives, so little time! If you're looking for a quick pick, this set from Zwilling J.A. Henckels meets most (if not all) of the qualifications on our list. It's durable (made of sharp stainless steel blades), versatile (including chef's-, utility- and paring knives, along with six steak knives and additional tools) and a cinch to maintain (the corresponding block serves as storage, plus the knives are dishwasher-safe, so easy to clean). 

This premium yet still competitively priced and frequently discounted assortment also happens to be an Amazon No. 1 bestseller backed by 11,000 five-star reviews, and the brand comes chef-approved: "I cannot recommend Zwilling J.A. Henckels enough. It’s a reliable brand, as the price is reasonable, quality is durable and the shapes and material of the knives are highly versatile," says Michelin star chef Silvio Salmoiraghi of Ambrogio by Acquerello in La Jolla, Calif., and Acquerello in Milan, Italy (discover more Zwilling J.A. Henckels sets further down below).

Pros
  • Durable
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Mid-price range (though often on sale)
$150 at Wayfair
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$150 at Amazon$150 at Macy's

Best chef's knives

Best chef's knife for chopping

Length: 8.2 inches | Blade material: High-carbon alloy | Handle material: Buffalo bone

Derick Wade of The Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, S.C., is another big proponent of Japanese knives, with Korin among his go-to resources for "some of the best handmade custom knives" around.

"Korin offers services for customers (outside of just impeccably made products) such as knife sharpening, chip repair and discoloration cleaning to ensure your blade is always in the best condition possible," he explains. One of his personal staples is the Nenohi Nenox Blue Bone Handle Gyuto, "an all-around great chef's knife that will help with all of your day-to-day cooking tasks. It comes in a number of colorways … I really love the blue!"

Pros
  • Durable
  • Stain-resistant
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Hand-wash only
$680 at Korin

Best chef's knife for tougher foods

Size: 9.4 inches | Blade material: Blue Aogami carbon steel | Handle material: Stabilized maple

This hardworking chef’s knife from the Japanese brand Takeda, which combines the strength of stainless carbon steel with the warmth of a stabilized maple handle, is a favorite of Rick Mace, owner and executive chef of Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach, Fla.: "a worthy investment of heirloom quality."

"Mr. Shosui Takeda is a third-generation Japanese master blacksmith. This particular knife is made by enveloping high-carbon Aogami Super steel inside of a stainless-steel cladding. One of the drawbacks of true carbon steel knives is that they are typically high-maintenance and rust-prone. Problem solved," he explains. "The last part of the name, Sasanoha, is a mix of a traditional chef's blade profile mixed with a carving knife. This means that the knife is lean, mean and not too far in between — the perfect balance for many, many different tasks."

Pros
  • Durable
  • Stain-resistant
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Hand-wash only
$419 at Chubo Knives

Best chef's knife for softer foods

Length: 9.2 inches | Blade material: Carbon | Handle material: Rosewood

Cru Catering sous chef Ross Bock was introduced to this wavy-edged chef's knife from Victorinox 17 years ago when he was just starting out as a young line cook (he now keeps several at home and won't go a shift without).

"I was skeptical of a serrated knife for everyday use, seeing that the only serrated knife in my kit from culinary school was my bread knife. I've since fallen in love with this knife for its versatility, price point, and durability!" he explains. "While the Victorinox Wavy Edge Chef's Knife is a specialty knife sold individually, the Victorinox 8-Piece Knife Block Set is a great starter set for the home chef who's looking to invest in quality cutlery and keep their knives under one brand."

Pros
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • Mid-price range
  • Hand-wash only
$53 at Amazon
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$66 at Office Depot

Best steak knives

Best steak knives for thicker meats

Length: 8 inches | Blade material: Stainless steel | Handle material: Pakkawood

Adam Sobel, chef and partner at Mina Group, which includes restaurants Cal Mare in Los Angeles and Nana Lu in Honolulu, stresses the importance of finding knives — and especially steak knives — that are not only durable but easy to sharpen and maintain.

"HexClad knives are perfect for home cooks for that exact reason. They hold their edge but can easily be sharpened and have a beautiful balance when in hand," he says. The blades on the brand's bestselling Damascus Steak Knife Set undergo an advanced heat treatment for enhanced hardness and feature an ergonomic pakkawood handle for added comfort and a touch of panache (larger set for reference here).

Pros
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Mid-price range
  • Hand-wash only
$184 at Amazon

Best steak knives for slender meats

Length: 4.25 inches | Blade material: Sandvik stainless steel | Handle material: Olivewood

It would be impossible to discuss fancy steak knives without mentioning the handcrafted offerings from French brand Laguiole, which Salmoiraghi points out are made of long-lasting metal and shine whether sitting on a table in your dining room or at a high-end steakhouse.

"The shape of the blade is extremely suited for slicing gently but firmly through thicker steaks without tearing the meat, while the elegant handle makes you forget the fact that you're holding a knife," he continues. "Rather, you feel as if you’re holding — or your table is adorned with — a piece of exquisite culinary art." For a more affordable option, we also love this six-piece set of Jean Dubost Laguiole Steak Knives at Williams Sonoma, available in white, olivewood and stainless steel.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Hand-wash only
$500 at Amazon

Best bread knife

Length: 8.3 inches | Blade material: Stainless steel | Handle material: Rosewood

"I have kept a 10-inch serrated Victorinox bread knife in my kit for many, many years; it's helpful for almost every task," says Mace. “It can easily transition from slicing tomatoes to cutting fruit to a loaf of crusty bread. It's also low-maintenance and very affordable."

The brand's serrated knives "have the perfect shapes for the job and require little maintenance due to their perfect design and material," adds Salmoiraghi. "I use them daily at the restaurant, and always for offsite dinners when traveling for events and catering as they are very easy to transport and keep a professional cutting level."

Pros
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • Mid-price range
  • Hand-wash only
$63 at Amazon

Best paring knives

Length: Varying | Blade material: Stainless steel | Handle material: Plastic

Both Mace and Salmoiraghi suggested Victorinox paring knives, a top pick among Amazon customers for slicing and dicing smaller food items while adding a pop of color to their daily routine (and at $22 a set, they're just over $7 each).

Mace says he's been using the three-inch serrated paring knives in particular for as long as he can remember. "The serrated paring knife shines when cutting tomatoes and soft fruits, when a slightly dull knife would struggle to make precise cuts, and the thin blade makes easy work of root vegetables like beets and potatoes."

Pros
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
  • Dishwasher-safe
Cons
  • Not ideal for larger or tougher foods
$22 at Amazon

Best knife sets

Best knife set for tougher foods

Length: Varying | Blade material: High-carbon stainless steel | Handle material: Polypropylene, stainless steel

Knife sets offer the best of several (and in some cases, many) worlds while lending a sense of cohesion to your kitchen. As Wade notes, "they're especially helpful for new cooks and at-home cooks looking to up their knife game." He recommends investing in a Wusthof set, such as the Gourmet 3-Piece Knife Set, which comes with two utility knives and a chef's knife.

“Wusthof also offers sets at higher price points,” he continues, “but this set can certainly get your knife collection started and is great quality for the price point — it’s made from German steel, easy to sharpen and work with, and is a little more economic than a specialty knife."

Chris Nirschel, chef and owner of New York Catering Service, a private chef and catering service serving the tri-state area, adds that Wusthof has been around a long time and that the knives don’t dull easily. "When I'm at a client's house and they have these, I will sometimes use theirs over my other chef's knives."

Pros
  • Durable
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Mid-price range
  • Hand-wash only
$285 at Amazon
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$325 at Wayfair$325 at Sur La Table

Best knife set for softer foods (given serrated inclusion)

Length: Varying | Blade material: High-carbon steel | Handle material: Not specified

For an equally versatile — and slightly more vibrant — trio, Adler likes this essential knife collection from Hedley & Bennett. "It's incredibly well designed, and the colorful handles add personality to your kitchen."

More specifically, "the knives are strong (made of steel), sharp (if needed, they're a cinch to resharpen) and comfortable, plus they're easy to maintain and clean. The perfect balance minimizes both fatigue and effort required when chopping." Opt for classic White or Black, or go bold with the Miso or Shiso (we also like the bright Capri Blue).

Pros
  • Durable
  • Colorful
  • Lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • Mid-price range
  • Hand-wash only
$200 at Amazon

Best knife set for everyday use

Length: Varying | Blade material: High-carbon stainless steel | Handle material: Polymer

For a bigger knife set, Claude Booker, chef and founder of Soul Food Starters, a soul food starter kit company that delivers nationwide, says he's "all in with Henckels," which he points out has remained a kitchen staple for nearly 300 years.

"German knives are a bit softer than Japanese knives, but this makes them easier to sharpen, and a sharp knife is so important in a kitchen battle. The professional series is made of forged steel, so they are definitely durable," he says. "They're not cheap, so you'll want to take care of them. I always keep a wet towel when using my knives, often wiping my blade, hand-washing them and putting them in the dishwasher for a better clean."

For a more affordable option, Yahoo readers love Henckels' 14-piece (black) and 20-piece (natural) knife sets (their black- and stainless steel-handle steak knife sets, also available in a giftable box, come highly rated too).

Pros
  • Durable
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Includes block for storing
Cons
  • Mid-price range
$330 at Wayfair
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$350 at Amazon$370 at Sur La Table

Best knife set for pro-level use

Length: Varying | Blade material: Stainless steel | Handle material: Stainless steel

Last, but certainly not least, we have Global knives, which, according to Nikki Martin, a private chef who's made appearances on the Food Network, Bravo and Master Chef, "have the whimsical ergonomics of a lightweight Japanese knife (like Shun), but can also do the heavy lifting like your typical German knives (such as Wusthof and Henckels).” 

She continues, "The Global Chef's Knife happens to be my favorite chef’s knife [it was also a favorite of the legendary Anthony Bourdain]. In his book Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain stressed the importance of keeping things simple, but this set also includes a few other essentials that can be useful depending on what you need."

Cameron Ingle, executive chef of Marisi La Jolla in San Diego, also counts himself among fans. "To enhance your skill level in the kitchen and set yourself apart from the rest of the home-cook world, a good chef's knife and paring knife should suffice," he says. "Global makes an effective, affordable set (last time I checked, it was also on sale), with super-high-quality steel and great edge retention. And they look pretty cool!"

Pros
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Includes block for storing
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Hand-wash only
$400 at Global

How to choose the best knives

When it comes to the battle of the blades, Adler says versatility and durability are key. “I strongly believe that knives, especially for an avid cook, are a worthy investment,” he advises. “There are great knives at many price points, but no matter what, you should not need to replace your knives very often!”

A few other things Bock advises prioritizing when purchasing a knife or knife set are strength, balance, comfortability and, ideally, a solid warranty. “You get what you pay for, so if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. When in doubt, it’s a good idea to ask fellow chefs what they like and why” (hence why we compiled this guide!).

The strength often comes down to the steel thickness and sharpness of the blade, though Mace recommends people look at that relatively: “For example, I prefer a thin, stamped steel blade like you’ll find with Victorinox over an integral forged blade, such as those offered by Wusthof, which tend to be heavier, and harder to sharpen because of the bolster.”

Then there’s also the craftsmanship (as you may have noticed, all the knives on our list are made of durable — mostly stainless — steel, with many handmade), budget (handcrafted Japanese knives tend to be on the pricier end, with German and French brands following suit), ergonomics (opt for lightweight blades, with a comfortable handle size and shape), maintenance (bonus points if the knives can easily be sharpened and cleaned) and safety (these knives are very sharp — part of the reason they’re so great — and should therefore be handled and stowed away carefully).

The different types of knives

Of course, there’s also your intended use, which will help determine the size, shape and blade. And for beginners and minimalists, many of our chefs say a chef's knife, a petty (also referred to as utility) knife and a paring knife are all you need.

“You can accomplish anything with these three knives in your kit!” exclaims Wade. “A chef's knife can be used for most things, but petty knives are ideal for finer cuts (garnishes, fruit carving, etc.); paring knives are preferred for peeling vegetables or garlic and other more intricate tasks.”

Then you can expand your collection or invest in more expensive materials as you evolve your palate and your trade. For example, Salmoiraghi notes that he likes to use a sturdier blade and not a flexible one (like in Japan) for fish cutting, as he “must be able to cut easily through little bones and scales.” A cleaver is another popular addition to the traditional knife set for butchers and chefs dealing with bigger bones and meats (as well as pounding and mincing in a pinch).

How to care for your knives

As with many things in life, a big part of keeping your knives in premium condition, especially in the long run, is being able to recognize when they could use a little TLC. “Be aware that sharpening a knife is just as important as which knife you select,” cautions Mace. “A honing steel can maintain a sharp knife, but a mechanical sharpener or wet stone will be required to keep your knives in great condition, and they will be easy and pleasurable to use.” See below for knife sharpeners and other tools for proper maintenance.