Best brands of kitchen knives, affordable to super premium
There are hundreds of different types of kitchen knives around the world. Some have been around for centuries, others for only a few years. As with automobiles or shoes, which company makes the best knives is subjective. As with any product, if higher quality materials are used and more work is put into making a knife, you will need to pay extra for that product. On the other hand, just because a knife is more affordable doesn’t mean it is of poor quality. It could mean that the knife brand has grown up and developed a technology to mass produce a quality product.
If you consider yourself a “blade geek” or an expert on steel knives, you are probably looking for a kitchen knife that is hand forged from start to finish. The problem with these kinds of knives is that you are going to pay a lot of money for them because the blacksmith has to pay the bills. Another issue with hand forged blades is uptime. The work of some counterfeiters is in high demand, and it can take months to get your hands on it. Whatever your preference, there is a knife brand for you. Here are some of the best kitchen knife brands on the market today to enhance your kitchen knife set.
Zwilling JA Henkels
Zwilling is the oldest knife brand in Germany. Peter Henkels registered his company and registered the Zwilling trademark in 1713, making it not only the oldest registered knife brand, but one of the oldest brands in the world. Zwilling knives are very comparable to their rival brand Wüsthof in terms of quality and price. Where it gets a little confusing is when the Zwilling and Henkles brands go their separate ways. Zwilling knives are made exclusively from German steel in Germany. The Henkels brand sources its labor and materials from different regions, which puts their quality in question. Zwilling JA Henkels also owns the premium Japanese knife brand Miyabi, another notch in the German Blade Empire belt.
Read more: Best Japanese chef’s knives
For over 200 years, Wüsthof has been forging knives in the “City of Blades”, Solingen, Germany, and was one of the first companies to help give the city that name. Over the centuries, the German brand has minimized the hand-forged aspect of its product and developed cutting-edge technology to mass-produce blades. But, like a new iPhone, when new technology is involved, the prices remain high. The average price for a Wüstohof chef’s knife is around $ 150, which is comparable to most high-end brands.
Although the Shun knife brand is young compared to Wüsthof, this Japanese knife company has over 100 years of blade manufacturing experience at Kai Corporation. These hand forged knives require around 100 steps, as evidenced by the overall beauty of the knife. The brand has won numerous awards over the years. You can pay as little as $ 100 for a chef’s knife or as much as $ 750.
This brand of Japanese knives does not have the same history as some companies. However, in our opinion, Global knives are some of the best designed knives, both in form and function, that you can buy. Developed in 1985 by Komin Yamada, Global blades are a hybrid of Western and Japanese knife styles. Because they are so unique, they can take a while to get used to. But, the solid steel end-to-end design, paired with Global’s exclusive straight-cutting technology, make these knives one of the most durable and sharp blades you can buy in the store. Compared to other high end brands, they are also very affordable.
If you’re more concerned with getting the job done in the kitchen than the craftsmanship, then you can’t beat Swiss brand Victorinox. Best known for the Swiss Army Knife, that doesn’t mean that Victorinox doesn’t make beautiful knives. However, the brand has made its way into the culinary world by making affordable yet durable kitchen knives that can withstand the punishment of a commercial kitchen. You can get a quality chef’s knife for around $ 50, but don’t expect a handcrafted walnut handle.
For many professional chefs who were classically trained in the culinary arts, a Mercer knife set was the first set of knives given to them with their first chef’s coat. That’s because Mercer Culinary is affiliated with groups like the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFE), the National Restaurant Association, and more. Although these knives are made in Taiwan, in a blind test against a Zwilling or a Wüsthof, it would be hard to tell the difference. This level of quality, in addition to being very affordable, makes Mercer Culinary a great brand.
Always on trend with affordable and well-designed knives, Imarku is the perfect brand for those looking for Japanese knives that won’t break the bank. The brand has grown to be only 13 years old. That’s probably because you can get a full set of 16-piece knife blocks for $ 200. Home chefs love these knives because of their style, affordability, and durability.
Benchmade is an Oregon knife brand that bridges the gap between mass-produced knife manufacturing and customization. While Benchmade blacksmiths do not hammer your knives by hand, they use the latest laser cutting technology, premium steels, and aerospace grade handle materials. You can customize your blades on their website or through selected dealers across the country. Benchmade knives are perfect for someone who wants a high end knife that stands out.
Laguiole en Aubrac
Laguiole En Aubrac is a world famous French forge named after the French village of Laguiole. Depending on the type, a single blade can go through more than 200 processes before being sold. Like Benchmade, the brand offers customization options if you order directly, such as grip material and engraving options. Surprisingly, despite the brand’s popularity and laborious production, you can get an engraved chef’s knife for around $ 150.
With these last two brands of knives, we have left the path of affordability. This is because Bob Kramer is considered one of the best master blacksmiths in the country and there are only 120 accredited by the American Bladesmith Society. To get your hands on a Bob Kramer knife, you need to be a member of his mailing list. Then, once a knife becomes available, you can bid on it at auction. This “demand by rarity” marketing approach has led some blades to fetch as much as $ 24,000. After his death, Anthony Bourdain’s Bob Kramer custom knife (originally $ 5,000) sold for $ 231,250. If you’re like most and find it too extreme, Kramer has licensed some of its knife models to Zwilling, where you can pay anywhere from $ 300 to $ 500 for a chef’s knife.
If you browse blacksmith forums, you will probably come across the name Robert Dalman a lot. Dalman is an elusive Swedish blacksmith who makes premium Japanese style knives from Swedish steel. While you won’t pay as much for a Dalman knife as a Kramer model (between $ 400 and $ 700), getting your hands on one can be even more difficult. Dalman is a guy who makes knives out of passion, so his work is extremely late. But, you never know, you might get lucky if you keep checking her website every day.