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The best kitchen knives

Whether you’re head chef, sous-chef, or even commis in your home kitchen, there’s one thing you’re sure to need in your arsenal, and that’s a good set of knives. 

With more of us making a return to preparing food from scratch, whether it’s because we enjoy the ritual, we want to hone our skills, or for health reasons, good-quality kitchen knives are just as important as a set of decent non-stick saucepans, and you can discover the elite here in this list of the best saucepan sets (opens in new tab).

To the first-time buyer, it can sometimes feel like you need a Cordon Bleu certification to make an informed choice. Luckily, our buying guide to the best knife sets is here to cut out some of the guesswork.

A good kitchen knife set is a heavy investment, but one that’s completely worthwhile for any enthusiastic home cook. A paring knife or vegetable knife for trimming, seeding, and other delicate jobs; an all-purpose chef’s knife for preparing meat and tougher veg; and a long bread knife for cutting loaves without crushing them are the very basics, and are included in each of the sets featured in our list. They’ll cover a good deal of the prep work between them, but keen chefs will no doubt be enthused by the extras in these sets, too: blunt-ended Santoku knives for slicing and dicing, perfect for making ultra-versatile soffrito; fine-edged carving knives for serving up a seamless Sunday roast; and boning knives for the amateur butcher.

When it comes to materials, both stainless steel and Damascus steel are incredibly durable and easy to keep clean, making them perfect for heavy use in the kitchen- make sure they're accompanied by an equally durable chopping board (opens in new tab)!

The distinctive mottled finish of Damascus steel is a result of its carbon steel core being surrounded with tough layers of stainless steel, resulting in a super hard, super sharp blade, giving it the slight edge (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Finally, consider the handle, whether it will be long enough for a good range of movement but short enough to control, and more importantly, comfortable enough to use every day. 

A thoroughly good all rounder, in more ways than one

Specifications

Best for: Best Budget Set
Material: Stainless Steel
Contents: Paring Knife, Serrated Knife, Santoku Knife, Chef’s Knife, Carving Knife, Bread Knife
Price: £78.88

Reasons to buy

+
 Pleasing compact design 
+
 Weighted handles with tool rest 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Base isn’t the best quality 

This compact knife carousel puts the tool you need at the forefront without taking up worktop space. Its selection of six knives will be comprehensive enough for most home cooks, and their sharp blades can handle a wide range of tasks easily while keeping their edge. The integrated tool rest keeps in-use blades from making contact with the worktop, and the weighted handles feel secure for nervous choppers. If you are looking to invest in a good quality kitchen knife set from a trusted brand and you don't want to overthink it, the Joseph Joseph Elevate Knives Carousel an ideal choice.

2. Robert Welch Signature Knife Block Set with Sharpener

A solid investment in a trusted brand

Specifications

Best for: Best Investment Set
Material: Stainless Steel
Contents: 22cm Bread Knife, 23cm Carving Knife, 14cm Cook’s Knife, 14cm Kitchen Knife, 12cm Serrated Utility Knife, 8cm Vegetable/Paring Knife
Price: RRP £329.99

Reasons to buy

+
 Includes sharpener 
+
 Sharp and well-balanced 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Expensive 

This sleek offering from the Robert Welch Signature range is the best investment knife set on our list. As well as a 25-year guarantee, the set comes with an integrated ceramic wheel sharpener to keep your blades in good nick use after use. The six ultra-useful included blades will also cover most cooking tasks between them, and the elegant handles are smooth and comfortable to use. If you have been persevering with an ageing beginners knife block and have since upped your chef game, this is the perfect 'first proper knife set' option.

3. Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece

With its stylish glass stand, this knife set is a clear favourite

Specifications

Best for: Value
Material: Stainless Steel
Contents: 8” Chef’s Knife, 8” Bread Knife, 6” Boning Knife, 5” Utility Knife, 3.5” Paring Knife
Price: RRP £156.00

Reasons to buy

+
 Eye-catching design 
+
 Great value 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Holder is heavy to move 

This tempered glass set not only looks fantastic (the clear construction offers a decent excuse to admire your purchase every time you pass) but gives the illusion of taking up less space on the worktop than some bulkier-looking opaque models. The sharp blades are ultra-precise, especially for this price range, and the ergonomic Santoprene handles are non-slip for safe and easy slicing. If the Robert Welch Signature Knife Block Set in this list took your fancy for its quality and performance but you want a more wallet-friendly option, these are professional level knives with an intermediate level price tag.

4. ProCook 6-Piece Damascus Knife Set

These especially tough Damascus Steel knives make a lifelong companion in the kitchen

Specifications

Best for: Damascus Steel
Material: Japanese Damascus Steel
Contents: 9cm Paring Knife, 13cm Utility Knife, 13 & 18cm Santoku Knives, 15cm and 20cm Chef’s Knives, 23cm Bread Knife, 25cm Carving Knife
Price: RRP £629.99

Reasons to buy

+
 Sharp, durable and beautiful 
+
 High-quality construction 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Very expensive 

 
Originally used to make knives in the Near East, Damascus steel has certainly stood the test of time, and no wonder. It’s very, very sharp, and phenomenally tough thanks to a super hard central core — hence the hefty price tag. This is truly a set to last you throughout your culinary career, and even the stand, beautifully constructed from tempered glass and acacia for visibility and safety, is sure to remain timeless. This knife set is not for beginners, these knives are the best pro choice for a pro cook.

5. Jamie Oliver Filled Knife Block

Never lose your edge with this durable set

Specifications

Best for: Value Edge Retention
Material: Stainless Steel
Contents: 11cm Paring Knife, 15cm Utility Knife, 19cm Chef’s Knife, 20cm Carving Knife, 22cm Bread Knife
Price: RRP £99.00

Reasons to buy

+
 Retain edge well 
+
 Great price 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Selection is on the small side 

The most inexpensive knife set on our list, this Jamie Oliver offering is the best budget buy but can still walk the walk when it comes to everyday prep. The full-tang Japanese stainless steel blades on these knives retain their edge incredibly well, so they can be used time after time, and the end of each knife is embossed with its name, a nice touch which makes mid-cooking selection from the attractive wooden block quick and easy. If you are looking for a good quality knife block for a housewarming or wedding gift where you are unsure of the recipients cooking credentials, look no further.

6. Global 7-Piece Knife Block Set

A great selection from a global leader

Specifications

Best for: Selection
Material: Stainless Steel
Contents: Peeling Knife Spearpoint Blade 8cm, Utility Knife 11cm, Vegetable Chopper 14cm, Bagel/Sandwich Knife 16cm, Cook’s Knife 20cm
Price: RRP £300.00

Reasons to buy

+
 Very high quality 
+
 Good selection 

Reasons to avoid

-
 No boning knife 

Six or seven knives seems to be the sweet spot for maximum kitchen utility without blowing out your budget, and this seven-piece set from Global packs enough paring power to see you through a multitude of kitchen tasks. Incredibly sharp, high-quality blades — following the strong samurai tradition in which they were first made — make light work of meat and veg, and the smooth rounded handles, with their distinctive design, are comfortable to work with. 

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