Choosing a set of kitchen knives can be a minefield; there are so many on the market with eye-widening varieties in price, quality and style that it is hard to know where to start.
Firstly, decide on your budget: if you’re a frequent and keen cook and are able to look after your knives without housemates or similar putting a spanner in the works then it probably makes sense to spend as much as you’re able to on some good quality equipment.
If you’re after something more temporary – and affordable – as a student perhaps, then there are still great options out there if you pay attention to the materials and think about what you’ll be using them for.
Most cooks agree that a selection of five or six knives will enable most of your culinary adventures, namely a chef’s knife for chopping vegetables and meat, a carving knife for slicing meat thinly, a paring knife for trimming small veg, a serrated knife for bread and squishy things that have a tougher exterior and a utility knife as a great all-rounder. Cooking fans may like to add in a Japanese santoku knife for precision slicing, dicing and mincing.
Next, think about how you’ll store your new wares: a block is popular, but small kitchens might appreciate something wall mounted or that can be put away. Of course, there are unlimited styles, materials and finishes to consider, so whether a traditional crafted wood block or a high gloss minimalist stand floats your boat, there is choice aplenty.
Here are our favourite sets, at a variety of price points, styles and selections so you’re sure to find the set that’s top of your blocks.
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Richardson Sheffield V Sabatier five piece knife block: £58.64 Amazon
For the price, these knives are really incredible from the well-respected Sabatier brand. Made from high carbon stainless steel for super strong, hardwearing blades, each of the five professionally designed knives has full tang (where the steel goes right through the centre of the handle for extra power) while managing to be not too heavy. The blades are tapered for extra precision and make light of most kitchen tasks from heavy-duty butchery to peeling and careful chopping.
The handles are non-slip with a classic industrial style three rivet design and are presented in a light wood block which is gently curved and would suit traditional or wood-heavy kitchens. Possibly not the most exciting of the lot but you really can’t go wrong with these.
Taylor’s Eye Witness Brooklyn rose gold five piece knife block set: £50, Bakewell Cookshop
Rose gold is going nowhere when it comes to interiors trends, so these pretty rose gold knives from Taylor’s Eye Witness are sure to tickle many people’s fancy. Housed in a black and transparent acetate fan-style stand with rose gold finger guards and detailing, this set of five knives are part of a range, so there are lots of other rose gold pieces should you wish to accessorize your kitchen further.
The knives themselves have hard, sharp titanium plated blades which are designed to be difficult to deaden and easy to sharpen, while the handle have a comfy soft grip. These are probably not for the keenest of cooks and won’t last forever, but they are good value, lightweight and attractive enough to appeal to many first setting up a kitchen.
Brabantia knife block plus tasty+ dark grey knives: £60, Brabantia
Exactly what you’d expect from Brabantia, the tasty+ knife block is a no-nonsense, practical yet understatedly stylish affair that will coordinate with most kitchens with its charcoal grey hues. We like the fact the bottom is removable for cleaning too. The five knives included are the standard chef’s knife, bread knife, carving knife, utility knife and paring knife which are all made from corrosion-resistant steel, then ice-hardened to keep their edge for longer.
While the handles don’t feel as pleasing as others to hold, the grip is seamless with easy-grip ridges and the plastic means they are easier to clean than more temperamental wood. This is part of a wider collection so you can add matching kitchenware should you wish.
Richardson Sheffield one80 five piece knife set: £185, Argos
Hailing from steel city, Richardson Sheffield has harnessed the skill and quality of British design over 180 years of business and ploughed it into this range of knives and block. The stand, or block, is a serviceable yet stylish and slender enough to fit into and under all nooks and kitchen crannies – but we we’d have it slap bang in the middle of the kitchen.
The knives are ice hardened, stainless steel blades developed with professional chefs in mind and you very much feel the part when handling any of the five; you can feel the quality. Each has an attractive non-slip white glossy handle with just a hint of shimmer – so much more impressive in person, take our word for it – and the selection of knives is classic and useful for all kitchen purposes. They’re strong, insanely sharp, durable and make us feel like we know what we’re doing.
Zyliss comfort six piece knife set: £36.99, Lakeland
A cheery and useful six piece selection from Zyliss here; a peeling knife, two serrated parers, utility, 18cm santoku and a large 18.5cm chef’s. So, yes you might want to invest in a separate bread knife, but for rolls or smaller loaves you could use a serrated parer (an under-appreciated knife in our book that is useful for tomatoes, soft veg, cake and frozen foods alike). They’re made from Japanese stainless steel and are as comfortable as they say on the tin.
There’s no storage offering with these, which is great for students as they can be kept in a drawer within their individual plastic sheaths to prevent blunting against other utensils; plus the bright colours make it easy to find the right knife quickly. If six knives are overwhelming, they also do a great value three piece.
Venn five piece knife block set: £79.96, Harts of Stur
Venn is known for its multifunctioning pieces and this set incorporates clever space-saving design whereby you choose whether to store your knives on the work surface, folded away in a drawer or mounted on the wall within the fan-style block.
Containing five professional-standard knives – parer, utility, bread, carving, chef’s – each with a soft grip handle and a tapered stainless steel edge for sharpness, this set is in a dark grey colourway with brightly coloured collars for quick identification. Very handy if you’re short on kitchen space and sensibly priced too.
Andrew James coloured knife set with stand: £19.99, Andrew James
This stand is a fan-style black acrylic storage block with plenty of transparency so you can select your very colourful knife with ease – we like how the whole knife is coloured rather than just the handle or collar.
Choose from the usual selection of chef’s, bread, carving, utility and paring, though most of the knives are slightly shorter than the expensive brands, making this set a more compact option. The knives are weighty enough to feel sturdy in your hands and have ergonomically designed handles, making these are a good all-rounder.
Tower Damascus rose gold edition five piece knife set: £27.49, Tower
This is another on-trend metallic hued set worth considering if you’re looking for something style-led without the accompanying price tag. This five piece bundle comprises a chef, carving, bread, utility and paring knife and easily stores away in its minimalist acrylic stand to best display the prettily patterned knives (the blades have an unusual Damascus effect).
No, they won’t last forever at this price, but they’re still made from titanium coated stainless steel, have impressively sharp blades that will maintain their precision if you look after them. The handles are as comfy as any others with some handy subtle non-slip quilting.
Robert Welch signature book oak knife block set: £250, Robert Welch
If you’re looking to really invest in your knives, we’d point you towards this swish six piece set from Robert Welch. Here, you’ll get a paring knife, a 11cm santoku knife, utility, chef’s, bread and carving all designed in conversation with professional chefs. The blades are fully forced German stainless steel with Japanese-style blade edges and a full tang; in short the sharpest and strongest knives we came across.
The handles are formed from tactile duPont and are comfortable to hold. The accompanying block is made from solid oak designed to hold the knives vertically without damaging knives edges, but we think the knives are worth the price alone.
ProCook elite ice X50 knife set eight piece: £279, Pro Cook
ProCook has covered everything here. The set features a paring knife, utility, 15cm chef’s knife, 20cm chef’s knife, small and large santoku, bread and a carving knife to be getting on with. All are professionally crafted from German stainless steel containing carbon then ice hardened to keep those edges razor sharp.
The handles are an attractive light wood resin and have been contoured for comfort but they are definitely one of the heavier sets we tried; the weight of these alone makes you feel like you’re a proper chef. There are various purchase options including individual knives and blocks for you to make up your own perfect set, but we’ve fallen in love with the leather knife storage case; the portable wrap adds to the professional chef fantasy and is space-saving.
The verdict: Kitchen knife sets
Although this is a tough one to call as everyone has different needs and budgets, the Richardson Sheffield set is our top pick. If you’re looking for something cheaper, the set from Brabantia is a reliable option.
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