The Best High-End Gourmet Knife Sets Ever Made: Why Spending More Pays Off

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 02/24/21 •  11 min read

Believe it or not, upgrading your knife set can elevate your cooking game at home.

You may not beat the likes of Gordon Ramsay in a one-on-one cook-off but a decent knife will be an asset even if you don’t spend years of training (and thousands of dollars in tuition) in a culinary school.

There are hundreds of companies marketing premium knife blocks at exorbitant prices.

But are these really worth your money?

You need not trouble yourself with too much research because we have narrowed down the list for you.

Listed below is the crème de la crème of kitchen cutlery.

Best High-End Gourmet Knife Sets (Updated List)

Buying Guide

What is the difference between a knife collection that costs $100 and $1000?

Read on to understand the price tag placed on well-esteemed brands.

The Steel Used

Because this is the heart and soul of a knife, you will always come across chefs and blade connoisseurs waxing poetic about the type of steel used in forums and comment sections of product listings.

Carbon makes steel hard.

Chromium, the metal alloy which makes steel ‘stainless’, is used to prevent corrosion.

Molybdenum adds strength.

Vanadium makes it last longer.

Tungsten allows the steel to get sharpened well.

Formulating a steel blend that contains a good balance of these metal alloys and then layering the steel flawlessly create a blade that will endure the test of time.

And that’s what you should be paying for.

The Making of the Knife

There are two main knife-making processes which you should know about: stamping and forging.

The former refers to cutting the blade’s shape from a thin sheet of steel.

The latter, heating a piece of steel and then hammering it to shape, takes more time and effort to accomplish.

Although many prefer the latter, each has its pros and cons.

Stamped blades are more lightweight while forged ones are more durable.

The Handle

The type of handle also adds to the quality and total cost of the knife.

Plastics tend to be cheaper. But there are synthetic materials that can drive the price up like Micarta and carbon fiber.

Natural materials like wood, leather, and mother of pearl tend to be expensive because these have been treated to resist bacteria, wear, and tear.

The Kinds of Knives in a Set

Talented master chefs will tell you that there are just four knives that you must have in your kitchen: a Chef’s knife, one for paring, another for boning, and a serrated one for bread. Having a honing rod is a plus too.

Then again, it would be nice if the set you’re eyeing has several other knives for really specific slicing jobs.

That can make your chopping board chores less complicated.

Product Reviews

Dalstrong Crusader Series 18-Piece Collection (Best Overall)

Knives included in the set: 8” Chef’s, 8” Serrated for Bread, 4.5” Paring, 9” Carving, 8.5” Kiritsuke, 7” Santoku, 7” Nakiri, 6.5” Boning, 6” Filet, 5.5.” Serrated Utility, 3” Tourne Peeler, six pieces 5” for Steak with straight edges, and a honing rod.

The blades are forged using Thyssenkrupp X50CRMOV15 stainless steel (HRC 58) then hand-finished with a razor-sharp edge of 16 to 18-degrees per side.

A straight groove parallel to the spine is added, for friction-less slicing.

The tang transitions seamlessly to the stainless steel loop handle, making the whole knife lightweight and incredibly balanced.

Besides the beautiful Acacia woodblock, all the knives come with a magnetic sheath.

Our scores:

Pros:

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Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Piece Ensemble (2nd Best)

Knives included in the set: 8” Cook’s Knife, 8” Serrated for Bread, 6” Utility, 4.5” Utility, 3.5” Paring, 10” Honing Steel, Kitchen Shears (Come-Apart), and a Knife Block

The Classic Ikon line is precision forged from Wusthof’s very own steel blend similar to the German X50CRMOV15 (HRC 58).

The edges are sharpened to 14-degrees on each side using the PEtec (Precision Edge Technology).

This innovation ensures longer edge retention.

The knives have full tangs, slim full bolsters, and are triple-riveted to POM (Polyoxomethylene) handles.

For safety, this set comes with a light-colored walnut wood block.

Our scores:

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Cangshan TC Series 17-Piece Collection (Best for Durability)

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03/16/2022 03:39 pm GMT

Knives included in the set: 8” Chef’s, 8” Serrated for Bread, 3.5” Paring, 6” Boning, 7” Santoku, 5” Serrated Utility, 5” Tomato Slicer, 2.75” Peeling blade, six pieces 5” Steak knives (serrated), 8” Honing rod, 8” Shears (Come Apart), and a Knife Block

TC Series’ knives are hand-crafted using Sandvik 14C28N steel (HRC 59) from Sweden.

This is said to be strong, resistant to stain and corrosion, and holds its edge 5 times longer than more prominent German steel blends.

With its full tang bolted thrice to a sleek and narrow black handle, these Cangshans are light and easy to maneuver.

The light-colored walnut block is a perfect match to the knives’ simplicity.

Our scores:

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Dalstrong Shogun Series 5-Piece Set (Best for Design)

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03/16/2022 02:44 pm GMT

Knives included in the set: 8” Chef’s, 8” Serrated for Bread, 3.75” Paring, 6” Utility, 7” Santoku, and a Knife Block

Blades under this series are made from the high-carbon Japanese steel AUS-10V (HRC 62) and then laminated with 67 layers of SUS410.

The forging, cooling, and Honbazuke sharpening create interesting gradations from the spine’s metal beading, the bevel’s Damascus waves, and the edge’s smooth sharpness (up to 8-degrees per side!).

The black, G10 Garolite handle is triple-riveted around the full tang and matches the simple Acacia wood and metal components of the knife block.

Our scores:

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Wusthof Classic 9-Piece Kit (Best for Eastern Style)

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Knives included in the set: 8” Chef’s, 8” Serrated for Bread, 5” Utility (with serrations), 4.5” Utility, 3.5” Paring, 6” Prep Knife, 9” Honing Rod, Kitchen Shears (Come Apart), and a Knife Block

Like all Wusthofs, the Classic knives are precision-forged from a single piece of X50CRMOV15 steel (HRC 58).

Thanks to the brand’s propriety PEtec, the edges are razor-sharp and do not require re-sharpening for a very long time.

It has full tangs and bolsters then triple-riveted to the durable black POM handles.

The light-colored Acacia wooden block that the set comes with has 17 slots.

Our scores:

Pros:

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Shun Classic 10-Piece Set (Best for Western Style)

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Knives included in the set: 8” Chef’s, 3.5” Paring, 6” Utility, 4.5” Honesuki, 5” Nakiri, 7” Santoku, 9” Slicer with a hollow edge, 9” Honing Rod, Kitchen Shears, and a Knife Block

Shun’s Classic blades are made using the proprietary VG Max (HRC 61) as core and then clad with 34 layers of stainless steel on each side, creating the Damascus pattern.

The dark-colored edges are then hand-sharpened to a 16-degree angle on each side.

The full tangs beautifully wrapped around the D-shaped handles made from ebony Pakkawood.

The no-frills light-colored bamboo knife block with 13 slots is just as cleanly designed as the knives.

Our scores:

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Nexus BD1N 25-Piece Collection (Best for Multipurpose)

Knives included in the set: 8″ and 6″ Chef’s, 9″ Serrated for Bread, 6″ Curved Boning or Filleting, 3.5″ Paring, 4.5″, 5.5″ Prep Knife, Utility, 5.5″ Serrated Utility (perfect for sandwiches), 6″ Utility Slicer, and many more

Nexus blades are made from BD1N stainless steel (HRC 63. Purported to be as exceptional as VG10, this American-made steel creates knives that are hard, razor-sharp (15-degree on each side) but aren’t brittle.

The precision bolster allows for honing from tip to heel, while the full tang triple-riveted to the black G10 handles provide just the balance.

The set comes with a matching black ash knife block.

Our scores:

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FAQ’s

Can the knives be put in the dishwasher?

No. Some brands say their G10 handles can manage the heat of dishwashers but the blade won’t.

Should the knives be honed daily?

Yes, especially before you use it. Honing re-aligns the knife’s edge so it can slice or dice accurately.

How do I clean the knife block?

Wiping it clean is best. Try not to get the block wet because the long, narrow slots are difficult to dry and could harbor microorganisms.

Why did the knife chip? Can this be replaced?

Even the toughest, most versatile knife can break if used improperly. Use your knives as suggested (example: don’t chop bony chicken with a filleting knife) because these aren’t part of warranty plans.

Why did the knife rust? Can this be fixed?

Many of the listed blades are high in Carbon so there is a possibility of rusting, especially when it is left soaked in soap and water or if it wasn’t dried before storage. There are numerous ways to clean a rusty knife but it’s best to prevent this from happening.

What are the return plans, warranty guarantees, and other related services?

All the brands mentioned above have limited lifetime warranties. Dalstrong and Cangshan can be returned for whatever reason within a certain period. Shun has a free re-sharpening service. Check their specific websites to learn more.

Are there more affordable options for each brand mentioned above?

Yes. The metal used for the blade and the material for the handle may be different but you can still be assured of quality with any of those high-end cutlery makers.

Conclusion

The price tag isn’t necessarily commensurate to the quality of a certain product.

And there is wisdom in not going for extremely pricey blades, especially if you’re a beginner.

But if you fancy yourself a gourmet and your current knife set is out of commission, you might want to consider a more high-end collection.

Any of the sets described will work well in a kitchen, even one owned by a newbie cook.

And because all those are worthy to be in your home, trust your instincts in choosing because it all boils down to which feels good in your hand.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

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