To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best kitchen knives 2023: Stay sharp with the best knife sets, Santoku, vegetable and bread knives

Looking to sharpen up your kitchen skills? Check out our guide to buying the best kitchen knives

If you’re sick of flattening your fruit and veggies, our pick of the best kitchen knives are here to save you from the struggle. You know it’s time for new knives when, despite having sharpened them to death, you find yourself raggedly sawing your way through meat or nearly chopping your fingers off every time you try to tackle an onion. But with a myriad of styles and price tags, how do you know where to start in your quest for your new knife?

You may also be dogged by other predicaments. Should you buy your knives individually or as a set? Do you need to go for a well-known brand? What features should you consider?

Our guide will help you decipher these quandaries, so you can slice and dice effortlessly for years to come. If you already know what type of kitchen knife you need, skip past our buying guide to find verdicts on the best individual knives and kitchen knife sets you can buy.

Best kitchen knives: At a glance

How to choose the best kitchen knives for you

Should you buy kitchen knives individually or as a set?

There’s no need to splash out on a set if you only need to replace one or two of your knives – or if you’re the kind of cook who only winds up using a couple of knives anyway. Don’t automatically replace like for like, though, for example, by swapping an old paring knife for a new one and so on. Check out our guide to knife types below to see if, say, a Santoku or chef’s knife may suit your needs better than what you’ve been used to in the past.

On the other hand, if all your knives have had it and/or you like a wide range of knives for different tasks, consider a set, many of which come with a handy block for storage.

What types of kitchen knives are there?

Kitchen knives are categorised according to their shape and size, with certain options suiting certain tasks best. These are the main types:

  • Vegetable knife: Also called a paring knife, this small knife is good for detailed jobs such as seeding chillies and trimming brussel sprouts.
  • Paring knife: Typically a smaller knife that can be used for everyday veggie peeling and paring fruit.
  • Serrated knife: Also called a tomato knife, this small knife can assist you with getting ultra-thin slices from a tomato, as well as peeling citrus fruit. The serrated edge means it grips as it slices through fruit or veg.
  • Bread knife: The long blade with a serrated edge is made to cut through loaves without tearing the bread or squashing it.
  • Chef’s knife: Also known as a cook’s knife, this all-purpose knife is made with a range of jobs in mind from dicing raw meat and hard vegetables to chopping herbs. They’re available with blades ranging from 15cm to 36cm.
  • Santoku knife: These Japanese-style knives – which are made for slicing, dicing and chopping – have become all the rage. They differ from the chef’s knife by having a blunt end, rather than pointed one, and the dimples on the blade ensure that you can get thin slices without food sticking to it.
  • Carving knife: Back in the 1950s, no self-respecting household would have been without a carving knife and fork. While you can easily live without one, these long, sharp knives can still be useful if you eat lots of roasts.

What other types of knives are there?

For the serious cook, there are a plethora of other knives available, including a boning knife (for butchery), filleting knife (for preparing fish), cleaver (for chopping meat) and utility knife (a general-purpose knife with a serrated edge for cutting and trimming meat and larger vegetables).

Other more specialist knives include Chinese cook’s knives, palette knives and mezzalunas (a two-handled knife with a curved edge for chopping herbs).

How important is the metal type?

At the cheaper end is stainless steel; these knives are nice and solid but can go blunt quickly and take a while to sharpen. Carbon steel is more expensive, but the metal is easier to keep sharp, although it can rust.

Other alternatives include ceramic blades. These are lovely and lightweight and much harder than carbon steel, with no need to sharpen and they don’t rust, although they can chip.

Then there’s Damascus: these pricey mottled knives have a carbon steel core, surrounded by layers of soft and hard stainless steel, the upshot of which is an extremely hard and sharp edge.

READ NEXT: Best knife sharpener

What other features should I consider?

Find out how the knife is constructed. A fully forged knife is best because it’s made from a single block of steel for both the blade and tang (the bit that attaches the blade to the handle). Too expensive? Consider a stamped knife, which is machine-cut from a continuous strip of stainless steel. While it’s not as durable as fully forged, it’s not a bad compromise. If you’re a regular knife user, you’ll need to think about the weight, although for more occasional knife users that won’t be an issue.

You should also test a knife for its balance. Some designs have the weight concentrated in the blade to help slice through hard foods, while others will have heavier handles, making the lighter blade easier to manoeuvre. Ideally, look for a good balance between the blade and handle. If a knife comes with a bolster – the thick junction between the handle and the blade – this will also affect its balance.

Make sure the handle is ergonomically suited to you, and don’t forget the washing instructions. While most knives are dishwasher-safe, washing them by hand will keep them sharper for longer. Then there’s storage to think about, with the best place being a knife block or magnetic wall rack.

The best kitchen knife sets you can buy in 2023

1. Viners Assure Four Piece Knife Set: Best safety knives (that are also a steal)

Price: £13 | Buy now from Dunelm If you have young children or are simply tired of nipping yourself on knives that have been put in the drawer the wrong way round, Viners have come up with an ideal solution. Unlike classic blades, each knife in the Assure set has a completely flat tip. While this makes for a rather unusual-looking blade, it barely changes the way they work – you can still cut, slice and dice as you normally would. In the set you get a 6in chef’s knife, 6in Santoku knife, 5in utility knife and 3.5in paring knife. This is ideal for everyday tasks, but if you like to experiment with a wide variety of ingredients then you’ll likely need to supplement this set with additional knives.

In the hand, these knives are lightweight and comfortable, and the non-slip coating on the handle is a nice addition both for practicality and looks. For the price, they did an excellent job of cutting through soft to medium foods, though struggled a little when it came to cutting up squash. Nonetheless, if you’re on a budget and want to keep sharp tips away from tiny hands, we’d highly recommend this set.

Key specs – Types included: 6in chef’s knife, 6in Santoku knife, 5in utility knife, 3.5in paring knife; Knife block dimensions: 3.1 x 21.5 x 33.5cm; Warranty: 10 years

Buy now from Dunelm

2. Zyliss Comfort 6-Piece Set: Best-value kitchen knives

Price: £38 | Buy now from Amazon If you’re looking for a superb set of budget knives that won’t bend or break under pressure, this colourful set from Zyliss might just be your perfect match. With soft-touch comfort handles and individual protective sheaths, not only do these look fab but they’re safe to use and store, too. The blades are made from Japanese stainless steel and are taper-ground for a fine finish that should stay sharper for longer. We really like the size and shape of these blades; they’re ideal for both larger chopping jobs as well as precision dicing.

During testing they put up a bit of resistance against some firmer veggies and didn’t slice through tomatoes and grapes as easily as the more expensive knives on this list. However, at this price, that is somewhat to be expected. If you’re not looking to splash out on a super-expensive knife set or just need something quickly, this is a great set for everyday tasks.

Key specs – Types included: 7.25in chef’s knife, 7.25in Santoku knife, 5.25in utility knife, 4in serrated paring knife, 3.25in paring knife, 2.5in peeling knife; Knife block dimensions: N/A; Warranty: 5 year manufacturer guarantee

3. Elevate Knives SlimBlock 5-piece Knife Set: Best all-in-one knife set with a sharpener

Price: £100 | Buy now from John Lewis This stylish set brings with it a collection of five different knives made from renowned Japanese stainless steel to help you tackle most kitchen cutting and chopping jobs. Included in the set is a paring knife for cutting small veg and peeling fruit, a Santoku knife for chopping, dicing, and mincing, and a chef’s knife for cutting vegetables and meat. Outside of the chopping and peeling arena, there are also two serrated knives with one specifically designed for cutting bread.

They all have weighted handles, which not only gives a nice balance to the knives when in use but also ensures you get a good, clean cut. To keep the knives sharp, there is a removable two-stage ceramic sharpener in base for use with the non-serrated knives, though it’s worth noting that this isn’t suitable for serrated or ceramic blades, if you have any in your collection. These knives are not dishwasher safe, so you need to wash them by hand – but be careful they are sharp.

Key specs – Types included: 3.5in paring knife, 4.5in serrated knife, 5.5in Santoku knife, 6.5in chef’s knife, 8in bread knife; Knife block dimensions: 35.7 x 16.8 x 7.5cm; Warranty: 2 years

Buy now from John Lewis

4. Tower Kitchen Knife Set: Best affordable non-stick knives

Price: £33 | Buy now from Amazon If you want to be pleasantly surprised by cheaper knives, this non-stick set from Tower is one to try. The Celestone coating used on the blades is incredibly effective and we experienced no sticking at all, even when chopping potatoes, which are notoriously bad for clinging to knife blades.

The handles are soft-grip and also weighted, which we found to be both good and bad. We liked how they felt to use but they weren’t the most balanced knives. They’re also quite thin, which means they’re very sharp but not particularly suited to tougher vegetables such as swedes or butternut squash. However, for day-to-day tasks such as cutting onions, bread, tomatoes and more, these are ideal.

Key specs – Types included: Chef’s knife, bread knife, carving knife, utility knife and paring knife; Knife block dimensions (WDH): N/A Warranty: 5 years

5. BergHOFF Leo 5-Piece Knife Block Set: Best affordable and versatile knife set

Price: £55 | Buy now from Argos This set is a space-saver’s dream. Not only is the block slimline, some of the knives double as other kitchen tools too, so you can avoid extra clutter in your cutlery drawer. The vegetable knife has a mini zester on top, while the small chef’s knife has two cutouts for herb stripping. The block’s storage insert is reversible, allowing you to either display a pink or grey top, and because there are no set areas for each knife, they can be inserted and rearranged any way you like.

Not only do these knives look the part, they’re comfortable to use. The soft, non-slip handles are comfortable to hold and the flat tang non-stick steel blades make chopping a breeze. While these aren’t the most precise knives you can buy, they get the job done and look great in the kitchen. Better still, they come with a 15-year guarantee, so you can have peace of mind that they’ll stay the course.

Key specs – Types included: Small chef’s knife, bread knife, vegetable knife, utility knife, paring knife; Knife block dimensions: N/A; Warranty: 15 years

Buy now from Argos

6. Lakeland Fully Forged Stainless Steel Five-Piece Block: Best budget full tang knife set

Price: £110 | Buy now from Lakeland

Cheap knives are typically flimsy, uncomfortable and not up to even the most basic of jobs. Lakeland’s fully forged block, however, is not your typical knife set. For £100, you get five sturdy, dishwasher-safe kitchen knives that are ideal for everyday tasks. Each knife is made using one piece of forged stainless steel, meaning there are no weak points that could compromise the strength of the blade.

We’ve been using these knives for weeks now and think they’re ideal for everyday kitchen tasks, such as chopping veggies, carving meat and slicing bread – though if you’re looking for a specialist blade, you’ll need to shell out a bit more or consider buying them individually. While we think it would benefit from one more medium-sized all-purpose knife, this is still a well-rounded set that’s certainly worth your money.

Key specs – Types included: 9cm paring knife, 22cm bread knife, 22cm carving knife, 20cm cook’s knife, 10.5cm all-purpose knife; Knife block dimensions: N/A; Warranty: 3 years

Buy now from Lakeland

7. Stellar Poise 5-piece wooden knife block set: Best knife set for smooth cutting

Price: £100 | Buy now from Harts of SturRelative to its price, this knife set and wooden block from Stellar offers some of the best quality and strength you’re likely to find. Typically selling for ~£100, this set comprises five dishwasher-safe knives made using rust and pitting-resistant stainless steel, as well as a sturdy and stylish wooden knife block for simple storage.

The knives themselves proved incredibly sharp and precise when cutting, with their well-shaped, comfortable handles and excellent weighting making it easy to fall into a steady rhythm when chopping, slicing or sawing. In particular, the bread knife impressed with its short, solid blade making quick work of cutting up a whole loaf of sourdough. And while the 6in cook’s knife delivered for a wide range of tasks, from chopping carrots and onions to dicing chicken breast, a wider-bladed knife for items such as potatoes and aubergine wouldn’t go amiss; the carving knife is the obvious candidate for swapping out. That minor quibble aside, this highly effective and well-priced knife set is easy to recommend, with Stellar’s generous lifetime guarantee sealing the deal.

Key specs – Types included: 3.5in paring knife, 4in utility knife, 8in carving knife, 6in cook’s knife, 8in bread knife; Warranty: Lifetime

Buy now from Stellar

8. Ninja Foodi StaySharp Knife Block: Best stylish knife set with sharpener

Price: £170 | Buy now from Ninja This modern-style knife block from Ninja is so much more than a quality, mid-price knife set. Not only are there five knives for a variety of prepping tasks, it also comes with a built-in knife sharpener. It’s an excellent addition, especially if it’s your first time spending a little more on knives and you’re not a sharpening whizz, but still appreciate the difference a sharp knife can make.

The sharpener can be a little tricky to get used to and we’d have liked to have another smaller blade included in the line-up, but aside from this, it ticks all the right boxes. Build-wise, these knives are just as exceptional as the block they come in: they’re made from forged stainless steel and feel excellent in the hand. The curved, plastic handle makes them comfortable to use, and the blades have no problem slicing through even the toughest veggies such as squash. If you’re looking to upgrade your current knife set, this is definitely one to consider.

Key specs – Types included: Paring knife (9cm), utility knife (12.7cm), slicing knife (20cm) chef’s knife (20cm), bread knife (20cm); Knife block dimensions: N/A; Warranty: Lifetime

Buy now from Ninja

The best bread, vegetable, Santoku and chef’s knives you can buy

1. Le Creuset Vegetable Knife with Stainless Steel Handle: Best vegetable knife

Price: £56 | Buy now from Amazon Le Creuset is a brand better known for its cooking pots than its blades, but this is the sharpest, most precise and easiest-to-use paring knife we could find for chopping or slicing everything from onions and garlic to potatoes and beans.

In fact, even after preparing a roast dinner for 16 people, our hands didn’t show signs of soreness and, as the blade is made from Damascus steel, it will see you through year after year of vegetable prep work. It’s hand-wash only, though, and not one to use with wet hands.

Key specs – Type: 9cm stainless steel; Warranty: 2 years

2. Victorinox Santoku Knife 17cm: Best mid-price Santoku knife

Price: £51 | Buy now from Victorinox  We rate quite a few Victorinox knives but this small, lightweight Santoku is a particularly good option for budding cooks. It’s not the absolute best knife Santoku knife you can buy, but for the price it performs well and allows you to chop things such as onions, carrots and tomatoes at speed. It does all this without being too big and bulky, too.

The fluted blade means difficult foods are less likely to stick to it when chopping, and while the rosewood handle wouldn’t be our first choice for handle material, it’s fairly studry and looks the part. The handle has been treated to minimise water damage, but you’ll still need to take extra care when cleaning it, and even though the listing may say otherwise, it’s definitely not suitable for the dishwasher.

Key specs – Type: 17cm stainless steel; Warranty: Not stated 

3. Zwilling Fully Forged Paring Knife 10cm: Best paring knife

Price: £43 | Buy now from Amazon This dinky little paring knife is a kitchen must-have for all those fiddly tasks. From peeling veg to chopping tomatoes, garlic and ginger, it’s the ideal size for a multitude of kitchen tasks. It’s super-sharp and will last you for years and years if you treat it right and sharpen regularly.

The blade is fully forged and ice-hardened for additional durability and corrosion resistance. The handle is made from a comfortable synthetic material designed to keep the average-sized hand comfortable for a long time, so whether you’re peeling and chopping a clove or an entire bulb of garlic, you should never have to worry about fatigue.

Key specs – Type: 10cm alloy steel; Warranty: Not stated 

4. Lakeland Stainless Steel Fully Forged Bread Knife: Best bread knife

Price: £23 | Buy now from Lakeland This is a great price for a strong and well-balanced bread knife. The good grip ensures that it cuts straight, which makes it easy to produce everything from thin and delicate slices right through to chunky doorsteps.

We found it slices through loaf after loaf without getting blunt – and that even goes for crusty white loaves with soft and airy middles. The serrated edge, which is made from stainless steel, is sharp and long-lasting, and you can bung it in the dishwasher after use.

Key specs – Type: 22cm stainless steel blade; Warranty: 3 years

Buy now from Lakeland

Read more

Best Buys