If you are an at home cook, no matter how often you spend time cooking in the kitchen, I believe that among all the hand tools and gadgets that can fill a kitchen, a set of quality cooking knives is without a doubt, the most integral part of any modern kitchen and cook.
This brief review includes a very short list of what I believe are the world’s top three leading brands in the kitchen knife manufacturing industry available in today’s competitive market. So you can feel confident that any one of the reviewed three sets of knives are all of high quality and would be a great choice for your cooking tasks.
First of all, if you are new to the world of cooking knives, before you start looking for the best cooking knives, I’d like to mention, just in case you don’t know it already, that among the commercial methods that are used to manufacture knife blades, the two most common are stamping and forging. Each with its specific advantages and disadvantages.
In the stamping method or also known as pressing, the shape of the knife blade is cut out from a flat sheet of stainless steel, and then, the process continues with tempering, polishing and sharpening before the knife is ﬁnally ready to sell. In the second method, the blade is molded from one piece of stainless steel that is heated until soft and then hammered into a blade shape. Each knife blade passes through different manufacturing processes to enhance its hardness, toughness, and flexibility. Forged knives that are made using this method are usually a lot more costly and with higher quality.
Victorinox Kitchen Knives – Best Overall Cooking Knives
The first set of cooking knives that I would like to look at in this review is from Victorinox. Undoubtedly, the Victorinox is well known global brand in the knife making industry, that produces high quality kitchen knives and cutlery with reputation.
Every single blade in this knife set is crafted by traditional machine fully forged method from medium hardness, martensitic stain resistant steel. This is the most common type of steel used to craft many of their high end knife blades, as this is the steel that provides the optimal balance between hardness (HRC 56) and toughness, outstanding edge holding ability, and moderate corrosion resistance.
One of the best advantages of this kind of steel is the fact that the blades with those levels of hardness in general, and Victorinox in particular, are relatively easy to sharpen and maintain compared to high carbon steel blades with high hardness edges.
Also, I have to mention that most European and top quality brands like Wusthof and Henckels actually use the same kind of (X50CrMoV15) steel for their knife blades, and hardened, tempered them to around similar levels. Sure there are kitchen knives hardened to around 60 HRC, but those are rather exceptions.
As for handles, the shape, size, and geometry are quite personal and subjective thing, but each one of the handles of the Victorinox knives is actually very convenient. The black plastic handle slabs are made of a high grade synthetic material, which is non absorbent, quite strong and easy to keep clean. The surface finish of the Victorinox knives handles ensures a pleasant and non slipping ergonomic grip and feels good in the hand. I’d have to say that due to the stainless steel rivets these handle slabs are much better secured to the blade as opposed to the rubberized ones used by the Chicago Cutlery in Fusion line.
This Victorinox set contains the minimal number of cooking knives, as follows:
The first and arguably the most versatile one in the set to me is the chef’s knife. With a standard consumer sized blade length of 200 mm (8″), this typical chef’s knife blade profile is the most preferred knife choice for use in the kitchen. With a blade width of 45mm (1-3/4″) at its widest point (the heel), this knife lets you scoop up piles of chopped vegetables or other stuff and transfer them from the cutting board to a pot effortlessly.
One more plus, from a personal standpoint, if you have larger sized hands, a wide blade is actually clear benefit of this knife. As this feature insures that when holding it in your hand there is enough clearance between the handle and the cutting board, so your knuckles do not get touched the board when cutting up small items like onions.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are a pair of two great little knives, one parer and one shaping. Both blade types are with a length of 80 mm (3.15″) and both versions are primarily used for close-up work.
The most obvious difference between these two types of kitchen knives is in their shape. What is nice about the bird’s beak peeling blade is that the inward edge geometry style allows it to glide along the contours of the certain round/curved fruits and vegetables more easily than the usual outward curve blade profile of the paring knife.
Finally, the last knife blade in this set is the tomato/steak knife, which features a 127 mm (5″) long blade. The entire cutting part of this blade is made up of small teeth, very similar to a saw’s. The advantage of this tooth style, as opposed to the traditional smooth edge blade, is that it will perfectly help you cut tomatoes and cooked meats with a lot less effort and pressure. The wavy edge of the blade is actually the only part of this knife that really distinguishes it from others in the Victorinox forged knife set.
And lastly, to better maintain razor sharp edges of each of these blades between true sharpenings the honing steel along with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors perfectly complement this great starter set. In order to easily store, and to protect the blades properly, they all come in a special wooden knife block for easy access.
Wusthof Classic Knives – Heavy Sturdy German Kitchen Knives
The Wusthof produces top quality, precision made cooking knives and cutlery for both the experienced professional and at home culinary enthusiasts alike. The famous line of cooking knives and cutlery, called Classic is considered among the very best in the market.
All Classic`s blades are made from the same well respected X50CrMoV15 compound, but with this difference, that each blade of the Classic series is hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 58 instead of 56 for the Victorinox knives. Every single knife in this Classic Wusthof line features a well balanced full length tang blade, distinctive full bolster and superbly made western type handle.
Wusthof Classic knife set also contains only the most frequently used cooking knives, that the cook will find themselves relying on the most.
The chef’s knife with an 8″ blade and the paring knife with a 3.5″ blade are definitely the two most versatile cooking knives among all the other kitchen knives in the set. On top of that, there are also a few specialty knives like the 8″ bread knife and 4.5″ utility knife, both knives have more specialized uses, but the utility knife offers slightly more versatility than the bread knife.
Similar to the previously reviewed knives by the Victorinox, the Wusthof knife set also comes with a honing steel, a pair of kitchen shears, and a classic wooden knife block to conveniently store all items in one place when not in use.
Chicago Cutlery Knives – Fusion Best Kitchen Knives For The Money
The Fusion set is another one of my most recommended options that made it to my top three best rated pick’s list. Despite being a relatively less famous brand compared to the Victorinox and the Wusthof, the Chicago Cutlery offers an extremely diverse selection of kitchen knives in a variety of styles, price ranges and sizes.
The interesting thing about the Fusion series of knives is the fact that all are crafted of inexpensive 420 steel. Which is not so high end steel, used mostly on budget cooking knives. Because of the relatively low carbon content in the steel, the knife blades in this series are all highly stain resistant, but a bit less wear resistant.
To ensure decent edge retention and moderate wear resistance those knife blades have a hardness of 55 +/- 2 on the Rockwell scale. Perhaps the first thing that is the most distinctive about this set is that each of the knives of the Fusion line features a full length tang construction. This, combined with ergonomically designed handle shape made using non slip rubber coating gives each knife excellent balance and control of motion in the user’s hand during use.
The second thing that really sets these blades apart from all others in a similar price range and all others using the same steel is Chicago’s use of the innovative Taper Grind edge technology. What does this mean?
The edge bevels are ground halfway to the spine of the blade. The initial edge ground of all Chicago’s blades is somewhere between 20°-22° per side, which gives over 40° included edge angle.
The advantage of this technology is that it yields an extremely sharp cutting edge on all of the knife blades. Of course, as with any other blades made out of such soft steel and hardened to only 55 +/- 2 HRC, the Fusion blade’s also lose their Initial edge sharpness fairly quickly – especially if they are subjected to some heavy cutting tasks.
What is included in the set?
These blades can be separated into three groups of knives that complement each other nicely: traditional knives, meat cutting knives and small knives.
The Fusion series includes six non-serrated steak knives, which are intended to be used for very specific kitchen tasks. The tip of each blade is designed to slide effortlessly through roasts and other prepared meats served at the table that require sharp knives. There is also the classic small paring knife also known as a peeling knife, which is exactly like the chef’s knife except for its smaller size. With its nice short triangular shaped blade, it is very useful for peeling all types of fruit and certain vegetables.
Then you’ve got the utility knife, a classic that’s midway in size between a chef’s knife and a paring knife. It is slightly more specialized cutting knife which can come in handy for cases when the chef’s knife is too heavy or thick and the paring knife is too short. The utility knife is suited for preparing sandwiches slicing meats, cheeses, as well as cutting large fruits and vegetables, such as melon chunks or cabbage.
The knife set also contains a slicing knife. It is a slightly longer, narrower and more flexible version of the utility knife, which allows it to slice more precise, thinner roasts pieces of meat into ultra thin slices.
Even if you do not plan to use the bread knife as frequently as the other ten blades in the set, I believe that there will be instances when you will want to have an 8″ serrated bread knife that comes with the block. Probably the most noticeable characteristic of this specific knife blade, over the others, is its serrated cutting edge. This allows it to easily cut through bread and other foods with hard or even soft composition without damaging the shape and appearance.
This set of cooking knives wouldn’t be complete without one of the most important, versatile and usable knife of all of them, namely a 7.75″ chef’s knife. It can be used for nearly every cutting task you may need it for, from slicing and dicing to chopping and mincing.
I am sure there is one question that a lot of folks will want to know the answer to:
Which of these aforementioned three sets of cooking knives to buy or which one of those knife sets are the best?
That’s a really good question, but not one that can be easily answered. Because the set of cooking knives you may want or need largely depends on your budget, individual goals, and preferences. Furthermore, each one of those three knife sets has their different strengths and weaknesses making each of those knife sets more or less appropriate for certain users, and more or less effective in certain types of culinary tasks.
For example, the Chicago Cutlery Fusion has plenty of good qualities that I am sure a lot of users will like, but at the same time, I have to say that it has two downsides that may really turn some people off. One of them is that the handles are not the best solution I’ve seen in terms of the use of rubber on them. Because of the fact that this type of material keeps the odors in. But at the same time, the rubberized oval-shaped handle is soft, super grippy and feels comfortable in the hand, at least for me. The second drawback is the fact that this knife set doesn’t have a honing steel which make impossible to maintain good edges.
So, would I recommend this set? Yes and no.
Frankly, the Fusion is a really good choice for basic kitchen tasks such as cutting veggies, fruits and raw/cooked meat, and for budget minded or the beginner avid cook users who aren’t willing yet to spend a little more money for a set of well made cooking knives that are admittedly much more serious than the Chicago Cutlery knife set.
On the other hand, If you intend to have a set of quality kitchen knives that you could truly rely on to withstand even the most massive cutting, then you could choose between the Wusthof Classic knife set and the Victorinox knife set.
I would say both the Wusthof classic and this particular Victorinox set of cooking knives are far far superior in terms of build, balance, durability and handle material as compared to the one of the Chicago cutlery line.
The primary difference between the Classic blades of Wusthof and those of Victorinox is that while Victorinox knives have semi bolster, the Wusthof Classic blades have a very large bolster. The only potential negative of the Classic in particular, is the fact that they are full bolster style. This makes the blade sharpening pretty much impossible at the knife heel because the bolster extends all the way from the top of the handle down to the bottom heel of the blades.
On the other hand, one of the most obvious advantages that Victorinox knives have over Wusthof Classic ones is that the semi bolster makes the entire length of the blade’s edge accessible for sharpening once they become blunted.
Personally, I prefer the Victorinox knives, but if you’re looking for a very specific set of sharp kitchen knives, or you are looking for certain knife qualities such as an extra wide blade or extra heavy cutting chef’s knife, or are particular in wanting a serrated knife for bread as well as a spear point style blade, then the Wusthof Classic may be your best set of cooking knives.
My advice, for anyone who is really interested in reading more details about the Victorinox Kitchen Knives Set and why it ranks as the best cooking knives in my top pick list, then read on. If you’ve got a few more minutes to spare, you’ll quickly understand why the Wusthof Classic Knife Blades are reckoned to be some of the best quality in today’s competitive market. And if you’re short on cash, or you are searching for something cheaper, then try the Chicago Cutlery Knife Set.