- Food and Cooking
Best Kitchen Cutlery - Best Cooking Knives for You
Kitchen Knife Set
Best Cutlery - How Do I Choose?
The best cutlery or cooks knives are finely crafted items, often made by hand. The blade is hollow ground tempered forged steel of the highest quality. The handles are weight balanced and designed to fit naturally into hand of the chef. Often these knives are coated with diamond or other fortifying substances so they will keep their edge longer. And like hand crafted watches, these knives have a Rolex price tag. So where does that leave the millions (or billions) of average everyday cooks?
Amazon Alert: Best Cutlery Set Deal We Have Ever Seen! (see below)
Quality versus Price
Every cook, aspiring chef, or just the average person has used a knife in the process of delivering food to the table. And it is no surprise that sharpened, well-crafted cooks knives make the job of preparing food easier. However, very few of us can afford the best cutlery. Instead, we rely on less expensive, manufactured knives. There are four distinct levels of knives:
- Professional – Highest Quality, Highest Priced (forged-hand crafted)
Price Range: +$1000 per set (+$200 per knife)
- Crafted – Above Average Quality, Higher Price (forged-some hand crafted)
Price Range: $400 - $1000 per set ($70-$150 per knife)
- Built – Average Quality, Average Price (made in factories-some forged)
Price Range: $100 - $400 per set ($15-$30 per knife)
- Manufactured – Low Quality, Low Price (mass produced-stamped design)
Price Range: $10 - $100 per set ($10 or less per knife)
Surprisingly, the vast majority of average household kitchens we visited are stocked mainly with knives that fall into the “Manufactured” category. Many restaurants were only slightly better using mostly “Built” cooks knives, which leads us to the question…What is the best cutlery for you?
The Big Names
Historically the best cutlery is made in Germany and Japan. Both countries use the highest quality forged steel . The United States boasts a few excellent manufacturers but they tend to produce lower quality (and lower priced) consumer knife sets.
- Germany – Wusthof, J.A. Henckels, and Victorinox
- Japan – Shun, Global and Kyocera
- USA – Calphalon, KitchenAid, Chicago Cutlery and Cuisinart
(Usually made in China and sold here)
Nadia G and Knives
Making a Choice
In our kitchen, we have a saying…You get what you pay for! And this holds true whether you are buying meat & cheese, paper towels, dish soap, baking pans or knives. Very few of us can afford to buy the highest quality meat, towels, soap, pans and knives, so we buy what is within our budget. No one should be ashamed to use the “el cheapo”, “blue light special” knives as long as they understand the knife will not hold its’ edge very long, will break often and will only make adequate cuts. Our set of standard kitchen cutlery (steak knives, etc.) is very low quality because we rarely cook thick, heavy food that requires higher quality knives. Instead, we focus on our cooks knives for the food preparation tasks. Surprisingly, when buying knives, we don’t even consider the “Crafted” knives. We head straight for the “Built” category and look for a good name brand in the $20 per knife range. We avoid buying personality brand names such as Chef Emril or Rachel Ray.
Amazon Alert: Best Kitchen Knife Set Deal We Have Ever Seen
Best Cutlery Deal We Found - Hands Down!
As we researched this article, we had to constantly remind ourselves to keep our credit cards in the wallet. Every site we visited had a "good deal" and we were tempted to order. The we found the Best Deal. (see amazon link below) We ordered a set that day! Since then we have ordered several more sets as gifts.
Excellent Quality - Made in USA - Incredible Price
A Good Fit
Your choice in cutlery is simply a matter of budget. Visit the Williams and Sonoma website and look at some of the knife sets. We saw sets in the $4000 price range as well as more modest sets in the $200 range. A quick trip to Amazon or Buy.com reveals some nice $60 sets. Our recommendation is to buy a nice everyday set of knives and purchase two or three higher quality cooks knives. Again, allow your budget to dictate this decision. Even the lower quality knives from KitchenAid or Cuisinart will perform well in most kitchens. Also, the “Big Names”, especially Wusthof, J.A. Henckels and Victorinox, offer consumer grade (meaning lower quality, lower priced) models. Search around the internet. There are many smaller manufacturers that have highly rated knives at consumer level prices. While researching this article, we found a set of hollow ground, forged steel Santoku knives (5 inch and 7 inch) for $30. We weren’t overly thrilled with the handles but the low price more than made up for it. Other knife companies were charging $70 to $200 for a similar quality set. Before shopping at retail outlets like Macy’s or Kohls compare their on-line prices with Amazon or Buy.com. Understand what the standard price range is for a given product. You will quickly realize what a good price range is and whether the retail store is within that range.
Chicago Cutlery Reviews
Chicago Cutlery is a well known and trusted brand in the United States. Their sets are reliable knives at a budget minded price. The average household kitchen can function well with any of these sets. We reviewed three excellent budget knife block sets from Chicago Cutlery.
- The Essentials Series is a perfect starter set that will not dent your pocketbook. Great for college students, first apartment gifts and young couples on a tight budget. The 15-piece set comes with steak knives, a few choice kitchen knives and a nice storage block. The most negative reviews on Amazon complain about the knives rusting too easily.
Standard price: $40.00.
- The Metropolitan Series boasts higher quality blades than the Essentials Series. Most reviewers found the handles to be more comfortable and sturdy. The 15-piece comes with the same steak knives and knife selection. The most common complaint on Amazon is the blades become dull too quickly. Perhaps they should buy a good knife sharpener.
Standard price: $60.00.
- The Fusion Series is by far the most stylish set of kitchen knives of the three. The 18 piece set comes with a much better selection of knives including a chef’s knife missing in the other two sets. Oddly though, it lacks kitchen shears. The handles are comfortable soft poly grip. The Fusion Series is highly rated on Amazon. The biggest complaint was imperfections with the knife block. Our favorite budget set.
Standard price: $80.00.
Our Favorite Budget Set
Tell us about your kitchen
How often do you use your knives?
Regardless of what you choose, the best cutlery for you is what works in your kitchen. Occasionally, we will have our guests cut lemon wedges or tomato slices at our gatherings and they often marvel at how well our knives perform. We smile and always show off our $15 knife sharpener. We tell them that one of the secrets for creating delicious food is a good, sharp knife. Of course, there are many other contributing factors but for us a great feast always starts with a great knife.
Remember…Cook well, Live well.
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Secret Bonus Reward
For those readers who read through the entire article, we have found a set of professional grade knives at an incredible price. The knives are made by Tramontina (US company) with highly prized Damascus steel blades.These knives should be valued at $50 to $100 per knife but sell for $25.00 per knife. If you are looking for the highest quality knife at the lowest price, then look no further. We would buy this set of knives over and over again.