The best knife sets of 2021

  • A good, reliable set of knives is essential to any kitchen.
  • We consulted metallurgists, chefs, and butcher Pat LaFrieda to find the best knife sets out there. 
  • The Wusthof set is our top pick because it comes with every knife you need for most kitchen tasks, plus a honing steel and a pair of shears.

Whether you’re prepping go-to recipes in your home kitchen or working on the line at the latest Michelin-starred restaurant, having good knives is essential. But you don’t need many: between a chef’s knife and a paring knife, you can chop, slice, dice, cube, mince, brunoise, chiffonade, julienne, and more. Beyond those two, you’ll probably want a bread knife, and depending on how much meat and poultry you cook, you may consider a boning or utility knife as well. Tracking down the perfect kitchen knives individually can be a time-consuming and expensive task, which is why purchasing them as a set is often a practical choice. 

I’ve done stints in restaurants and raw bars, served as a galley cook aboard a private yacht, and filleted and shucked more seafood while working on fishing boats than I can recount. For this guide, I tested eleven knife sets, focusing on balance between the blades and handles, quality of construction, and edge retention.

While sharpness was a given (any knife that wasn’t sharp out of the package was immediately disqualified), we chose to test edge retention by slicing tomatoes before running knives on a glass cutting board 200 times in order to dull them. After dulling, we tried slicing tomatoes again to determine which edges held up best. We also consulted a professor of metallurgy to provide insight into the pros and cons of different alloys, and to break down our contenders’ hardness ratings. 

Below are the knife sets that passed our tests exceptionally well. You can learn more about our methodology here, and if you’re still unsure as to whether a pre-assembled knife kit will suit your needs, check out our list of the pros and cons of buying your knives piecemeal.

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