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10 best knife sets for key kitchen tasks

Published: September 8, 2022 at 11:10 am
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Sharpen up your skills in the kitchen with a good set of knives. We've put a selection of knife sets through their paces – read on to see which came out on top.

Knives are a kitchen essential – you'll need them for just about every meal you prepare. Investing in a set of knives means you will cover all the basics and a matching knife set can look smart, too. It can also be more cost-effective than buying them individually.

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When you're looking to buy a knife set, one of the first things to consider is whether they will meet all your needs. Some of the smaller sets we tested didn’t contain a bread knife, for instance. This might be fine if you already have one, or only buy sliced bread, but it will be an issue for many.

Most knife sets have one or two smaller knives for jobs like cutting vegetables, along with a carving knife and chef’s knife. If you haven’t bought knives for a while, you might be surprised to find a Santoku knife in some sets. These versatile Japanese-style knives have indents on the blade and are designed for chopping and dicing. You can also use the flat surface to scoop up finely chopped ingredients like herbs and garlic.

The quality of the knives is key as well. A full tang knife is one where the blade is a single piece of metal running the whole length (as opposed to the handle being attached to the blade) and is generally thought to be stronger. However, these are usually more expensive.

You also need to think about storage. Some sets can be kept in the cutlery draw while others come in a block, in a variety of colours, sizes and styles. Think about how much space they take up and whether you want a compact one or one that makes more of a statement.

If you’re a parent, safety will also be a consideration. In some of our blocks, the knives sat at the side, while others needed to be pulled from the top end, making them harder for young children to remove.

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Read on to discover which knife sets to buy. For more, visit our reviews section to find over 600 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in, from the best food processors to best dishwashers.

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Best kitchen knife sets at a glance

  • Most comprehensive knife set: ProCook Professional X50 Micarta knife set 8 piece and glass block, £229
  • Best celebrity chef knife set: Jamie Oliver Tefal 6 kitchen knives and block, £158.06
  • Best traditional knife set: Sabatier by Stellar Set of 5 kitchen knives in wooden knife block, £69.95
  • Best knife set for parents of young kids: Joseph Joseph LockBlock, £179
  • Best knife set for students: Presto by Tower 3 Piece Knife Set with Chopping Board and Sharpener, £10.99
  • Best investment knife set: Zwilling Pro 7 Piece Ash Self Sharpening Knife Block, £449.99
  • Best blow the budget knife set: DNA Savernake Quad Knife Set, from £716
  • Best knife block: Kuhn Rikon Colori knife and block 6 piece set, £89.95
  • Most useful knife set for vegetarians: Opinel Fifties 4pc Kitchen Knife Set, £33
  • Best for versatility: Our Place Knife Trio, £155

Best kitchen knife sets to buy in 2022

ProCook Professional X50 Micarta knife set 8 piece and glass block

Most comprehensive knife set

Pros:

  • Great choice of knives
  • eco-friendly packaging

Cons:

  • None

Star rating: 5/5

Set contains: 9cm paring knife, 13cm santoku knife, 13cm utility knife. 15cm chef knife, 20cm chef knife, 18cm santoku knife, 25cm bread knife, 25cm carving knife.

We were very impressed with the packaging on this one – the knives were packed in cardboard boxes. Five came in one well-designed box, with three others in individual ones. No plastic here apart from the necessary bit to protect the tip.

Once opened, the packaging revealed a very comprehensive knife set which is ideal for enthusiastic cooks. There are two santoku knives in different sizes, for example, and also two chef’s knives. We couldn’t think of any tasks that you couldn’t accomplish with this set.

We also scored the block itself highly. Made of sturdy smoked glass and acacia, there are two long slots running across the width inside rather than individual ones for the knives. This makes putting them back easier – no fiddling around to find the right-sized space. The fact that the block is transparent also makes it easier to select the right knife each time. With eight knives, this is a good time saver.

With so many knives, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting one for a particular task. The smallest knives all performed well on our standard celery/carrot/onion prep. All are well weighted, and every knife we tested cut efficiently and easily.

The bread knife and rather scary looking carving knife had unusually long blades – especially in relation to the handle – which took a bit of getting used to.

Although not the cheapest, this set is designed to provide value – it comes with a 25-year guarantee.

Available from:

ProCook (£229)

Jamie Oliver Tefal 6 kitchen knives and block

Best celebrity chef knife set

Pros:

  • Block has small footprint
  • Good-quality knives
  • Good range

Cons:

  • Not always clear which knife goes where in block

Star rating: 4.5/5

Set contains: 9cm paring knife, 12cm utility knife, 16.5cm santoku knife, 20cm slicing knife, 20cm bread knife, 20cm chef’s knife

We felt spoilt for choice with this knife block, which is a partnership between celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and leading kitchen brand Tefal.

When coring and slicing a pineapple – not the most pleasant of tasks – the santoku, slicing and chef’s knives all coped easily. The chef’s knife is notably weighty so good for heavier tasks. It’s the same length as the slicing knife though the latter somehow felt longer. The bread knife was also the heaviest of all those tested – yes we weighed it – and felt particularly solid.

We put the two smallest knives – the 9cm paring and the 12cm utility – through their paces by chopping onion, carrots and celery and both were highly effective, slicing through cleanly. One of these two would no doubt become your go-to knife for most tasks so it really is a matter of personal choice which you prefer.

The knives, which are made from German stainless steel, are ice hardened and feel strong. Handles are smooth and comfortable to hold. They are full tang and high quality.

The acacia block itself is compact and attractive, with six different-sized slots for the knives. These aren’t marked and there were occasions when, replacing all the knives in one go, we were left with the last one not fitting in the remaining slot, meaning we had to rearrange them.

But this would only be a problem if you were using several of them at once – plus you would soon get used to which knife goes where.

Sabatier by Stellar set of 5 kitchen knives in wooden knife block

Best traditional knife set

Pros:

  • Very effective knives
  • Knives can go in the dishwasher

Cons:

  • Not the most exciting looking

Star rating: 4.5/5

Set contains: 9cm paring knife, 10m utility knife, 15cm cook’s knife, 20cm carving knife, 20cm bread knife.

Some knife sets are designed for style and to be a focal point of the kitchen. Others – like this one – just get quietly on with the job in hand. This is a straightforward, traditional-looking, unflashy knife set for those who enjoy home cooking and the set contains all the knives you need to accomplish every task.

The wooden block itself is fairly discreet looking. Knives have traditional black handles with rivets. We found them nicely sharp and pleasant to hold. Knives are full tang and made from stainless steel. They come with a lifetime guarantee for extra reassurance.

We particularly liked the smallest knife, which is slightly squarer than most paring knives and particularly easy to use. It looked a bit like a cross between a paring knife and a santoku knife. Light and easy to manipulate, we can see this one becoming a go-to knife for meal prep.

We tested the knives on everything from butternut squash and onions to cherries and pineapple. The bigger knives worked their way efficiently through the tougher fruits, while the smaller ones diced everything without much effort. They are comfortable to hold with a ridge between handle and blade to protect fingers from slipping.

The bread knife is short and easy to control, slicing effectively through our baguette.

Made of stainless steel, these can go in the dishwasher though handwashing is recommended.

Available from:

Harts of Stur (£69.95)

Joseph Joseph LockBlock

Best knife set for parents of young kids

Pros:

  • Great-quality knives
  • Childproof

Cons:

  • Knives take a bit of effort to remove

Star rating: 4/5

Set contains: 3.5in paring knife, 5in utility knife, 7in santoku knife, 8in chef’s knife, 8in bread knife, 8in carving knife

This block is designed to prevent kids from getting hold of sharp knives: it’s the knife set equivalent of a childproof lock on a jar of pills. The black block has a green button at the side which you need to push up as you remove a knife. This unlocks the mechanism and releases the knife. The company says that in tests, 96% of under-fives couldn’t operate the mechanism.

It’s very effective though it does mean removing a knife requires both hands – you can’t just grab a knife easily. So if you don’t have children, it could be a little frustrating though you do quickly get used to it.

The knife block itself is well designed, with a coloured band on each knife matching the slot it fits into. Trying to find the right-sized slot for each knife can be an irritating feature of knife blocks, so this is a good idea. It also adds a splash of colour to the block.

The knives are made of forged Japanese stainless steel and there are bolster guards to protect fingers from the blade during use.

Knives are comfortable to hold, easy to grip and cut cleanly. We were particularly impressed with the bread knife which, though the lightest we tested, sliced effectively through our crusty baguette and home-made farmer’s loaf.

The large santoku knife is the real workhorse of this set – both this and the chef’s knife dealt easily with the top of a butternut squash and we also used it to dice the squash. The small paring knife cut through cherries smoothly and easily.

Available from:

Presto by Tower 3 Piece Knife Set with Chopping Board and Sharpener

Best knife set for students

Tower knife set with a gold accreditation badge

Pros:

  • Great starter kit
  • Good value
  • Knives cut well

Cons:

  • No bread knife
  • Plastic packaging

Score: 4/5

Set contains: 8in chef’s knife, 5in utility knife, 3.5in paring knife, chopping board, sharpener

If you’re looking for a basic knife set when packing a student son or daughter off to university, or a cheap set for a camping holiday, this fits the bill.

Not only does the set come with three knives for everyday tasks, but there’s a chopping board and a two-slot sharpener too.

This is the smallest set we tested in terms of knives. It comes with three everyday knives– a chef’s knife, paring knife and utility knife – so you don’t get niceties like a bread knife or carving knife for instance. But the set contains three knives of different sizes that between them can accomplish kitchen tasks for most dinners.

For the current price of £10.99, you really can’t go far wrong. The knives aren’t full tang – you wouldn’t expect it at this price – but they feel sturdy enough and are comfortable to hold.

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the knives. It took a bit more effort compared to some of the others to cut the butternut squash, but the chef’s knife did manage it without too much difficulty and we also didn’t have any problems dicing it. Cherries and celery were sliced smoothly and efficiently.

The chopping board itself is pretty thin but we didn’t think this was a deal breaker.

One thing we didn’t like was the packaging – this comes with a thick piece of plastic over it which was very hard to cut open.

Available from:

Tower (£10.99)

Zwilling Pro 7 Piece Ash Self Sharpening Knife Block

Best investment knife set

Pros:

  • Excellent quality and innovative knife block design
  • Includes scissors

Cons:

  • Price may put some off

Set contains: Ash block, 4in paring knife, 5in utility knife, 8in slicing knife, 8in chef’s knife, 8in bread knife, kitchen scissors.

This is a knife set that oozes quality. The five knives should cover every kitchen task you’d need and the scissors are a welcome bonus, too. The ice-hardened stainless steel knives are full tang (as you would expect at this price point) and are pleasingly weighty in the hand. The slight curve at the bottom of the handle makes them particularly comfortable to hold.

The knives cut effortlessly, with the bread knife gliding through our crusty loaf. We particularly liked the serrated utility knife, which was perfect for cutting anything from tomatoes to grapefruit.

While the black-handled knives with flush rivets look traditional, the knife block itself is clever and innovative. Each knife has its own slot, with an image next to it to show you which one goes where. The slots for non-serrated knives have integrated ceramic sharpening stones so they are gently sharpened each time you pull one out or put it back.

The ash block is also attractive and sits quite low, meaning you can happily place it under a cupboard.

DNA Savernake Quad Knife Set

Best blow the budget knife set

Pros:

  • Star quality
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Made with recycled steel

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • No bread or paring knife.

Star rating: 4.5/5

Set contains: Utility knife, nakiri knife, two chef’s knives

Although the quality (and the price) are proof that these are designed for the serious cook, these knives also show that cooking doesn’t have to be a serious matter. With their cheerful handles, each one in a different colour or style, these will brighten up any kitchen. You can get them engraved for free when you buy them to complete the personalisation – there’s even a choice of font.

Savernake is a British brand, made from British materials including 95% recycled steel . Blades of each knife are finished and sharpened by hand.

These come with a lifetime guarantee and also an information card with a plea not to put them in the dishwasher. You can choose to buy them with or without a stylish magnetic wooden block.

We liked the packaging, with the knives coming in an open tube, with cork at the top to keep the knives firmly and safely.

These are four knives for cooking rather than all kitchen tasks – there is no bread knife, for example and this particular set doesn’t come with a paring knife. We tried all four knives on onion, carrot and celery and they were all clean and efficient. While we mainly used paring knives to cut cherries during this test, the utility knife here was more than up to the task.

Knives were light, sharp and comfortable to hold.

Available from:

Savernake (from £716)

Kuhn Rikon Colori knife and block 6 piece set

Best knife block

Pros:

  • Good range, well thought-out block

Cons:

  • Knife handles feel lightweight

Set contains: Clear block, 18cm bread knife, 17cm chef’s knife, 9.5cm Santoku knife, 12.5cm utility knife, 9.5cm paring knife

Knife blocks can have two distinct disadvantages. You often end up pulling out several knives before finding the one you want, and there is rarely anywhere to store a favourite old knife that you still use frequently and which isn’t part of the set.

This aims to deal with both problems. Firstly, the knife block is transparent, allowing you to easily pick out the one you need. Secondly, the top of the block has plenty of space for other knives or kitchen scissors –the flexible insert at the top means you can press knives in anywhere and of all different sizes.

The block has a small footprint, making it ideal for modest-sized kitchens, and has safe rubber feet to stop it sliding on the worktop as you pull a knife out. Both the insert and the bottom can be removed for cleaning, and both can go in the dishwasheras can the knives, though hand washing is recommended.

The knives themselves felt light and comfortable to use (some may find them too lightweight) with finger guards for extra safety. They were pleasingly sharp, though we found the bread knife needed a little bit of effort to get through our very crusty home-baked loaf. The range of knives is good, covering all essential tasks – we particularly liked the inclusion of the versatile santoku knife.

Opinel Fifties 4pc Kitchen Knife Set

Most useful knife set for vegetarians

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Cheerful
  • Brightly coloured set

Cons:

  • Knives may be too small for some

Set contains: Paring knife, serrated knife, vegetable knife, peeler

This dinky set of “essentials” contains four knives for everyday tasks. One knife is designed for general slicing, chopping and peeling, while the serrated knife is ideal for tomatoes and other softer fruit and veg. The set also includes an unusual curved blade knife for scraping, plus a handy peeler.

The varnished wooden handles are brightly coloured so you will be able to find them easily in the drawer. Each knife has a different coloured handle including lime and fuchsia, and blades are stainless steel. Hand washing is recommended.

We found this set ideal for prepping veg, though the peeler was on the small side for a large spud. This is another set that would be suited for a student heading to university, though they will need a bread knife.

Our Place Knife Trio

Best for versatility

Pros:

  • Great quality
  • Attractive knives

Cons:

  • No knife block

Set contains: 21cm serrated knife, 20cm chef’s knife, 10cm paring knife

This is more of a “bundle” than a formal set, which means that although they are designed to complement each other, you can purchase them individually if you prefer – but buying them as a bundle does work out cheaper. If you do choose to buy all three, they don’t have to be in the same colour – you can mix and match from four colourways including blue and charcoal. There’s no block but the knives come with sheathes so you can keep them safely in a drawer.

We tested the cheerful “spice” colourway. The full tang knives are solid and weighty in the hand, particularly the serrated knife. Knives are designed with grooves to make sure you grip them in the right places. Blades are made from German stainless steel.

The paring knife is a good size for smaller cutting tasks while the chef’s knife is ideal for cutting meat and larger veg. The serrated slicing knife is very effective for bread but is more versatile than that, as you can use it for tomatoes and fruit.

Other knife sets tested and rated

  • Viners Assure colour code knife block and board set, £64.50
  • Joseph Joseph Elevate knives carousel set, £77.32
  • Richardson Sheffield Scandi 5-piece knife set, £89.99
  • Robert Welch Signature Book Oak knife block set, £325
  • BergHOFF Leo 5-piece knife block, £55.00
  • Lakeland fully forged stainless steel 5-piece knife block, £109.99
  • Leiths Wusthof classic knife set, £420
  • Japanese knife trio, £99

What knife types typically come in knife sets?

  • Bread knife: long serrated knives for bread, rolls and other baked good
  • Paring knife: small knives for general tasks including cutting and peeling vegetables
  • Chef’s/cook’s knife: wide-bladed, multi-purpose knife
  • Carving knife: for meat
  • Slicing knife: long bladed knife
  • Santoku knife: a versatile Japanese-style knife with indents on the blade, designed for chopping and dicing. You can also use the flat surface to scoop up finely chopped ingredients like herbs and garlic.

How to dispose of kitchen knives

The best way to dispose of knives you no longer need is to pass them on to someone who needs them. If you’re a keen cook, you may want to upgrade your knives but they could be more than adequate for a student or someone setting up home for the first time.

If this isn’t possible, most councils will allow you to dispose of them with your general waste, though do check first. If doing this, wrap them really carefully – put the tips in corks, for instance, or wrap them thickly with newspaper or bubble wrap, secured with tape.

In other areas, you’ll be asked to take them to a recycling site and put them in the scrap metals bin.

How we tested knife sets

We tested a representative sample of knife sets, from those with a vast array of knives and an additional block to more simple, budget-friendly sets. Each knife within the set was tested by chopping and slicing a range of ingredients. Each set was scored against the following criteria.

Bread knives were put through their paces on crusty baguettes. Fruit knives tackled fiddly fruits like cherries, whilst we finely diced onions, carrots and celery for a sofrito to test chef's knives and pairing knives, also crushing garlic cloves under the blades to help assess the knife's strength. Slicing through fibrous pineapple skin and cores should be an easy task with an effective knife. We then tested carving knives on the notoriously tough butternut squash along with large watermelons to gauge the control they offer.

Effective cutting. This is key – there’s no point having a beautiful set of knives if they’re ineffective. We wanted knives that cut cleanly and easily.

Quality. We rated our knives for strength and balance. We also looked for knives that are comfortable to hold and use.

Range. Taking into account the number of knives in each set, we looked for a good variety.

Aesthetics. Many knife sets are designed to be on display. We awarded marks for stylish knives and, if applicable, for the appearance of the knife block, too.

Storage. We looked at whether the knife block was thoughtfully designed to store knives safely and securely

Value. Our sample ranged from £8.99 to £700+ and in each case, we looked at whether the knife set offered value for money.

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