One of the main benefits of buying a knife set is affordability. Purchasing a set can often be more cost-effective than buying each knife separately. Additionally, some sets come with a block which provides a convenient and safe way to store your knives, helping to protect the blades from damage and preventing accidents in the kitchen. However, there are instances where individual knives may be preferable, such as when you require a specific type of knife for a particular task, e.g. a fish knife.
The four most common knives in a knife set have myriad uses. A chef’s knife is a workhorse that can tackle everything from slicing meat, hard veggies and crushing garlic. Our beef stir-fry recipe brilliantly showcases how versatile a chef’s knife is.
A bread knife that can seamlessly slice through crusty loaves without tearing is essential. Even this crisp-crusted roast potato focaccia is no match for a top-quality bread knife.
As the name suggests, a utility knife is an all rounder that can be handy for slicing cheese or trimming fat. They’re smaller than a chef’s knife so best reached for when a chef’s knife is just too large for the job at hand.
A paring knife may be small, but this nimble tool makes light work of intricate tasks like peeling and trimming fruit and veg. Choose a paring knife when prepping a classic apple crumble.
Knives can be made from a couple of different materials. Stainless steel is a popular choice owing to its durability and resistance to corrosion. It is more difficult to achieve a super fine edge on stainless steel, however. Carbon steel, while requiring a bit more maintenance, is known for its sharpness and excellent cutting abilities. Although there are none on this list, ceramic knives are lightweight and hold their edge for a very long time.
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We put a variety of knife sets to the test to find which ones are worth buying. Read on to discover our top picks.
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Best knife sets at a glance
- Best knife set: Katto knife set, from £243
- Best knife block set: Victorinox Swiss Modern knife block, £328
- Best knife set with integrated sharpener: Zwilling Professional S Sharpblock, £169
- Best large set: Victorinox Swiss Classic cutlery block, £260
- Best budget knife set: Victorinox Swiss Classic 7-piece set, £180
- Best Damascus knife set: ProCook Damascus knife set, £459
Best knife sets to buy 2023
Katto knife set
Best knife set
Star rating: 4.5/5
Knives in set: chef’s knife, santoku knife, utility knife
- Handmade in the UK
- Sturdy set
- Looks attractive
- Handles are large
- Angular where handle and blade meet
- No paring knife
Hailing from Chesterfield in the UK, this Katto knife set is undoubtedly the most attractive on our list. The set we tested has beautifully tapered walnut handles, though beech and rosewood handles are also available. The blades are made from Japanese steel and feature a fabulous hammered finish. Not just a joy to look at, these knives thoroughly impressed us in test, too.
The chef’s knife cut through celery and carrot with relative ease, and we also managed to achieve a pleasant rocking motion with this knife. The santoku knife cut through butternut squash easily and took the tough rind off with deft precision. The utility knife is the smallest in the set and has a fine pointed tip that made light work of slicing through tomatoes and supreming an orange.
The handles in this set are on the larger side, so those with small hands may find them a little too big. Testers who use the pinch grip method also noted some rubbing on the forefinger where the handle meets the blade.
Katto is the only brand we’ve tested who offer free knife sharpening for their customers. Londoners can attend a monthly sharpening clinic or, if you’re outside of London, customers can arrange sharpening via post.
Victorinox Swiss Modern knife block
Best knife block set
Star rating: 4.5/5
Knives in set: chef’s knife, bread knife, utility knife, carving knife, santoku knife, carving fork
- Great starter set
- Comfortable to hold
- All black or colourful set available
This attractive and minimalist knife set contains six useful knives as well as a carving fork. It’s available in either all black or with colourful handles. This is a fabulous set for everyday cooking and entertaining. The knife block itself isn’t too large so would fit comfortably in most kitchens.
As we found when we tested the Victorinox Swiss Modern chef’s knife previously, despite looking quite angular, these knives have very comfortable handles, and we particularly like the slightly textured finish that provides an extra grip. The knives are on the lightweight side, but it doesn’t feel as though you’re not holding anything when using them.
Long and nimble, the carving knife sliced through roast chicken with long controlled strokes. We cut through crusty sourdough easily using the bread knife, though the blade felt disconcertingly flexible. The utility knife is super sharp and cut through tomatoes easily and supremed an orange well, too, though we did feel a paring knife would be better suited for this. From our testing notes, one word was written on repeat for both the chef’s and santoku knives: smooth. Both knives cut through hard root veg very easily.
These knives are easy to clean and they come with a lifetime warranty.
Zwilling Professional S Sharpblock
Best knife set with integrated sharpener
Star rating: 4.5/5
Knives in set: chef’s knife, paring knife, serrated paring knife, utility knife, scissors
- Good range of knives
- Scissors included
- Integrated sharpener
- Symbols show exactly where each knife is
With innovation in spades, this knife block set was undoubtedly the most user-friendly of all the blocks we tested. Housed within each of the knife compartments is a sharpener so as you pull the knife out of the block, it’s sharpened automatically. And while knife blocks keep your knives stored tidily and safely, one of the big downsides is that it’s not always clear which knife is housed where. This Zwilling set features little icons next to each knife compartment so you know where to reach every time.
Each knife has a classic European handle: riveted and curved slightly at the end. The handles are particularly comfortable to hold and each knife felt well balanced. Although there are just five knives in the set, each is an essential. The chef’s knife tackled meat and hard veggies well. The blades are on the thick side, so cutting through foods with the larger knives was the smoothest of processes. The bread knife is on the shorter side at just 20cm long, however, very little effort was needed to slice through our crusty loaf. The paring knives and utility knife are where this set shines. The serrated paring knife is nimble and cuts through tomatoes really well. We enjoyed total control and a super sharp blade when using the paring knife.
As with all Zwilling knives, you can enjoy a lifetime warranty. The scissors are useful and brilliant quality, too.
Victorinox Swiss Classic cutlery block
Best large knife set
Star rating: 4.5/5
Knives in set: chef’s knife, carving knife, bread knife, santoku knife, paring knife, curved paring knife, serrated paring knife, carving fork, honing steel, scissors
- Good variety of knives
- Lots of paring knives
- Compact set
- Scissors and honing steel included
If you’re after a knife set that contains everything you need for everyday cooking right up to entertaining, the Classic cutlery block is a great choice. Equipped with seven knives plus ever-useful scissors, honing steel and carving fork. All housed in a compact beechwood knife block, this set is sure to suit any kitchen.
We’ve tested a few knives from the Victorinox Classic range and found them to be very sharp and deft in use. They are on the lighter side and the longer knives do have a tendency to feel flimsy. The carving knife is a good length and allowed us to take long, controlled strokes when slicing roast chicken. Both the chef’s knife and santoku knife performed well when cutting onion, carrot and celery, though the chef’s knife did feel a bit flimsy. Very little force was needed to slice through a crusty loaf with the bread knife. But the paring knives were the stars of the show. They’re ultra sharp and felt like an extension of the hand. We were able to cut tomato and supreme an orange with real precision.
Victorinox Swiss Classic 7-piece set
Best budget knife set
Star rating: 4.5/5
Knives in set: chef’s knife, paring knife, serrated paring knife, santoku knife, bread knife, peeler, carving fork
- Good starter set
- Accessories included
- Comfortable handles
- Not ideal for heavy duty jobs
- A little flimsy
The knives in this set come from the same range as those above. However, this set doesn’t come with a knife block or any storage options.
Presented in a simple plastic display box, this seven-piece set makes a great addition for a new home or if you’re looking to totally replace your old knives.
We loved the comfortable, ergonomic handles, as well as the additional textured surface that provides added grip. These knives are made in Switzerland and come with a lifetime warranty
ProCook Damascus 67 knife set
Best Damascus knife set
Star rating: 4/5
Knives in set: chef’s knife, bread knife, carving knife, paring knife, utility knife
- Good range of knives
- Slim block, could fit in drawer
- Not super sharp
- Force needed to cut through some items
Presented in a series of secure cardboard boxes, this Damascus knife set from ProCook is attractive and nimble-looking. We received the five-slot knife block which is slimline, allowing you to store your knives upwards on the kitchen counter or lay them down in a drawer.
Comprising all the essentials, these knives are generally comfortable to hold. Though our forefinger did rub on the bolster when using the larger knives.
We really liked the carving knife: it’s long and thin, so removed slices of roast chicken breast in a controlled and clean manner. The paring knife supremed an orange relatively well and the utility knife was nimble and very sharp. We struggled somewhat with the bread knife and chef’s knife, however. Some effort was needed to cut through crusty bread and some real force was needed when using the chef’s knife to remove the skin and dice butternut squash. There was also notable resistance when chopping root vegetables, particularly carrots.
These knives are available in myriad variations from ProCook, there’s the option to buy the knives alone, buy the slim block, knife wrap, classic-style block, and more.
What to look for in a good quality knife set
A knife set can be a costly upfront investment, so there are a few key factors to consider before buying:
- What’s included in the set: the size of a knife set can vary hugely, think about which knives you actually need. If you already have a much-loved santoku knife or bread knife for example, you don’t need a set that includes these
- Comfortable handles: the knives in your new set will all have the same handle, so its paramount that the handles are comfortable
- Storage options: if you don’t already have knife storage like a magnetic strip or knife roll, look for a set that comes with a storage block. Not only do they keep your knives organised but they also keep them safe
How we tested knife sets
We ensured that every knife in each set was put to the test to make sure there were no duds. For the chef’s knives and paring knives we tested them in exactly the same way as we did for their individual tests – slicing, chopping and and prepping a variety of hard and soft fruits and vegetables. Bread knives were – unsurprisingly – tested by cutting precise slices of crusty sourdough and we roasted a whole chicken and carved it up to test the carving knives. Santoku knives were tested the same way as chef’s knives and we used a couple of the same tests to try out the utility knives. Across all of our knife tests we have the same criteria:
- Balanced knives: all knives should feel balanced in the hand, not weighted too heavily towards the tip of the blade or the handle
- Comfy to hold: a long prepping session can see you holding your knives for a long time, whether large or small, all knives should have a comfortable handle that doesn’t restrict your movement
- Versatile set: we asked whether the set provided a variety of different knives that someone would actually get around to using in their day to day
- Sustainable: knives that have long or lifetime warranties scored highly. We didn’t want to see lots of plastic packaging either
- Storage: if the knife set comes with storage options, we considered its appearance and if any special additions made using the knife block easier, e.g. symbols to show which knife was in which slot
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Recipes for knife sets
Asparagus and ricotta salata tartlets
Vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice
Garden summer rolls
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