No matter the level of cook or the dish at hand, knives are the most versatile and useful tool in any kitchen. With the right set even the most tedious and difficult cuts can be a breeze. Cut the struggle and find the perfect kitchen knife set for you.  

We tested each knife against essential kitchen tasks: dicing onions, slicing tomatoes, cutting bread and chopping hard vegetables. Our tester panel included a chef, a professional caterer, a food stylist and a keen home cook for a range of perspectives. 

A knife set is usually made up of a multi-purpose chef or santoku knife, a smaller utility or paring knife and a bread knife. You might also get a small serrated or a filleting knife, but you should select a set based on what you do most often in the kitchen - if you never sit down to a Sunday roast, don’t bother paying for a carving knife that will only gather dust. 

Savvy chefs might buy a high-end set with just two outstanding knives they’ll use all the time, and then pick up cheaper paring and bread knives, for example, to finish off. Get a good pair of kitchen scissors while you’re at it, so you’re not tempted to use your beautiful new knives to open plastic packaging.

If in doubt, make the decision based on the chef’s knife or santoku, as that’s what you’ll use most often. Chef’s knives have a slight curve for a rocking-cutting motion, and santoku are good for up-and-down chopping of large vegetables.

Justin Kowbel, from Borough Kitchen shop in London, recommends looking for three things in a knife: sharpness and robustness; how easily food comes off the blade; and how it feels in the hand. 

Some knives are “better” than others because of the quality of the steel, but ultimately the “right” knife is one that feels right for you.

If you live in a hectic household, try Western-style stainless steel knives that are harder wearing, have a more durable 22° blade angle and usually a bolster for easier grip.

But if you’re prepared to look after your knives, then go for sharper Japanese carbon steel blades with around a 16° angle. Whatever knives you end up buying, don’t put them in the dishwasher.

Swiss Classic In-Drawer Knife Holder Set: $165, Victorinox​

Modern, affordable and durable, this Victorinox knife set was the top choice among our testers.

We loved the in-drawer design to keep knives out of the way. This is a utility-driven set, with ergonomic, easy-grip handles and an excellent range of knives in Swiss-made steel. They’re durable enough for family life, so they’d suit an entry-level cook as much as a seasoned chef.

The fluted santoku is lightweight and dextrous, and we found the deep blade made easy work of butternut squash. The bread knife gave a clean cut on a crusty loaf, and the serrated knife was the right size for prepping salad and tomatoes.

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Robert Welch Signature Knife Block Set with Sharpener: $388.72, Trouva

A sleek, well-designed knife block and sharpener distinguishes this Robert Welch six-knife best seller. 

The chef’s knife is just 14cm, which might be too small for some people, but good if you don’t like unwieldy knives. The angled bolster enables a firm grip, and the 15° Japanese-style edge gives a satisfying cut on hard veg. 

We found the serrated tomato knife cut wafer-thin slices, and the bread knife was good but a little on the shorter side. Testers loved the smooth, rounded handles and excellent balance with the blade. Magnetic action in the storage slots also made them a joy to put away and stops them getting blunt.

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Global Hiro six-piece Black Wood and Steel Block Set: $279.99, Cutlery and More

If you love Global, you’ll be smitten with this impressive six-knife set. The Hiro range has slightly longer handles and heavier blades than the classic Global knife, but it’s still lightweight and feels balanced with the signature Global grip handle. 

Compared with all the others we tested, this set included the most complete variety of knives. There’s no carving knife, but that’s no loss when you get an efficient multipurpose santoku, the 13cm and 20cm chef’s knives to switch between small and larger tasks, a paring and a long bread knife. 

Butternut squash didn’t stick to the chef’s knife and our testers loved the small paring knife for its surgical precision, as well as the fine tip on all the knives, which made them outstanding on detailed tasks.

Its slim bolsters will suit keen cooks perfecting their pinch grip, and the ice-hardened, Cromova-18 stainless steel blade has a keen Japanese-style edge that’s easily sharpened.

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Lion Sabatier Edonist Knife Block Set: $420.64, Wellindal

This classic knife set from Sabatier looks sleek and sits beautifully on the kitchen counter. 

We loved the elegant, slim handles echoing traditional western knife design, but they might not suit cooks with larger hands. There’s no paring knife, but the utility knife doubles up and testers found it easy to work with. The serrated knife slices tomatoes extremely thin, and is large enough to be a handy second utility knife. 

Fully forged, Nitro+ steel blades have a 58° Rockwell hardness rating, and while the chef’s knife is not as large as others we tested, it’s more manageable and responsive with harder veg.

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Joseph Joseph Elevate Carousel: $100, Joseph Joseph 

This colorful set from Joseph Joseph doesn’t take up too much room on the counter and has easy grip handles with stainless steel blades.

The bolster doubles up as a rest, so the knife doesn’t get your kitchen surface dirty when you put it down. The handle has slightly more weight to it than other economy knives we tested.

With six knives, this is a good value set. We liked the inclusion of a 14cm fluted santoku for more dexterity and the 16.5cm chef’s knife for larger chopping tasks. The bread knife snagged on the loaf, but the butternut squash didn’t stick to the chef’s knife and the serrated tomato knife cut smooth slices.

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Füri Pro Seven-piece Wood Knife Block Set With Diamond Sharpener: $174.99, Amazon

This Füri knife set looks smart, with Japanese high-carbon stainless steel blades and a distinctive utilitarian metal finish. The built-in finger hook in the handle suits cooks who grip the knife there.

The scalloped santoku knife had more weight than we expected for its 17cm length, which made it a reliable multi-use knife in the test. The deeper blade cut butternut squash well and didn’t get stuck.

Matching 15cm utility knives, one of which is serrated, would suit cooks who prefer more small knives for multiple tasks.

The set comes in an elegant two-tone wooden block, which takes up minimal space, however the smaller knives are a little wobbly in the slots.

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The Verdict: Best knife sets

For value for money, efficiency and design, Victorinox Swiss Classic set is the best buy. They’re not fancy, but you know they’ll last and be durable in a busy kitchen.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.