Our favorite kitchen knife sets under $200

Here Are The Best Kitchen Knife Block Sets for $200 or Less in 2020 From JA Henkels, Chicago Cutlery, Wusthof, Zyliss and Cold Steel 

There are a lot of great kitchen knife sets in the $100 – $200 price range in 2020, and it seems like more new sets are announced constantly. While it is nice to have a lot of choices it can be tough to figure out which cutlery set is best for your needs.  In this post we have highlighted a few of the best kitchen knife sets at the sub $200 price point. All of these sets are well designed and durable, but they all have their own strengths and weaknesses which we have listed to make your knife block set shopping decision easier.

Modern manufacturing technology has made it possible for the kitchen cutlery companies to offer impressive quality and functionality at a budget price point in 2020. While it is true that kitchen knife sets at the sub $200 price point are not on the same level at high end knife sets, the quality gap is not as big as it used to be, and it really is possible to get a great kitchen knife set that will last for many years for less than 200 bucks especially if it is properly cared for.

At the end of this article we highlight the types of knives available in most of these sets and describe their purpose. This may help you pick the best product for the type of cooking and food prep that you do.

Here are our top picks for the best kitchen knife set under $200 in 2020:

 

J.A. Henckels International Modernist 14-pc Set With Self Sharpening Block

The 14 piece modernist set ships with a block that sharpens the knives.

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 3″ paring knife, one 3.5″ paring knife, one 5″ serrated utility knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 7″ santoku knife, one 8″ bread knife, one 8″ chef’s knife, six 4.5″ steak knives and one ash wood self sharpening block. block.
  • Weight – 9lbs
  • Size – 15.5″ x 5″ x 11.5″

Pros

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 55-58 HRC
  • Large set for this price point
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Labeled sharpeners built into the block

Cons

  • Not full tang.
  • Reports of rust spots (These knives should always be hand dried)

The Modernist line of knives is one of J.A. Henckels newest products. They have become extremely popular in the relatively short time they have been on the market. I have avoided adding them to this list, because they are not full tang. However JA Henckles seems to have found a way to create a durable knife with a 3/4 tang. JA Henckles is not the first company to pull this off. The Swedish cutlery company Morakniv has been making excellent 3/4 tang knives for years.

The design of the Modernist line is really nice for this price point. The aggressive styling is a nice change from the classic look of most of JA Henckels other products. The knives are well balanced and the 7″ Santoku knife is especially pleasant to use. The contoured stainless steel handles are not as comfortable  as the Pakkawood or Micarta handles found on high end knife sets, but they are far more comfortable to use than most other knife product lines with stainless steel handles.

Obviously the real standout feature of this set is the self sharpening block. Most people hate sharpening knives and put it off until the knives become dull. I really appreciate that the knife slots are labeled to ensure the right knife is put in the slot that is designed to sharpen that particular knife. If you are looking for a good looking, durable, self sharpening set this one is hard to beat.

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Chicago Cutlery Insignia 2 18 Piece Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Kitchen Knife Kit

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 3″ paring knife, one 3.5″ paring knife, one 5″ boning knife, one 5.5″ utility knife, eight 4.5″ steak knives, one pair of scissors, one eight inch bread knife, one 7″ santoku knife, one 8″ slicer, one 8″ chef’s knife and a hardwood block.
  • Weight – 12.6lbs
  • Size – 10″x7.1×7.5″

Pros

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Large set for this price point
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Knife sharpener built into the block

Cons

  • When this set was first released there were reports of some quality assurance issues, but they seem to have been addressed.
  • The large Chicago Cutlery logo detracts a bit from the overall aesthetic. (This is certainly subjective, and not a big deal for most potential buyers.)

This set has everything you need from peeling to slicing. If you want gorgeous looking, durable knives the Chicago Cutlery Insignia 18 Piece Set is the one for you. All blades are made with the exclusive “Taper Grind” edge that will keep these knives sharp for a long time. Made from carbon steel, these knives won’t rust or stain. All the knives in this kit have full tang blades which means the blade runs the length of the handle. This feature is really important from a durability standpoint.

The block that ships with this kit has a built in blade sharpener which makes sharpening really convenient, and should result in a more consistent sharpening schedule ensuring that you always have sharp blades. Another aspect of this set that we find appealing is the block itself. It sports a bold design that should look good on most kitchen counter tops making this set a great combination of form and functionality. Chicago Cutlery is an established brand that consistently delivers a good performance to price ratio.

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Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Set

This set from Mercer is small, but it knives are all well made, and the blades are constructed of quality steel.

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 8″ chef knife, one 8″ bread knife, one 4″ boning knife, one 5″ utility knife, one 3″ paring knife, and a storage block.
  • Weight – 8 lbs
  • Size – 13″ x 5″ x 15

Pros

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Holds an edge extremely well.
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Great steel for this price point
  • Very comfortable handles
  • Blades are forged not stamped

Cons

  • Not dishwasher safe. (Really no kitchen cutlery is dishwasher safe, but that is especially true with this set.)
  • Set does not include steak knives

Mercer Culinary is a 30 year old company that has really been turning out some great cutlery sets lately. The Genesis series of knives featured in this set are full tang, well balanced and the blades are made of German X50CrMoV15 stainless steel which is usually found on more expensive knife sets. Mercer kept the price of this set down by not including steak knives, but that is common with with the higher quality sets at this price point.

The ergonomic handles of this knife set are incredibly comfortable, so if you are looking for knives that won’t cause discomfort during long food prep sessions this set is a good option. The handles are made of Santoprene which is a pretty durable rubber-like material that is easy to grip even when the knife is wet.

The Genesis set ships in a glass case that offers a more modern look than the wood blocks that are usually included with knife sets. However, the storage block is not angled, so the knives may be difficult to remove if they are stored under a low cabinet.

Overall this is an excellent set at the under $200 price point that should offer exceptional performance  for many years.

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Kai Wasabi 8-Piece Kitchen Knife Set w/ Bamboo Storage Block

This kitchen cutlery set from Kai is made in Japan, and it is a great value at just under 300 dollars.

 

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 8″ chef knife, one 6.5″ Nakiri knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 4″ paring knife, one 4.25″ deba knife, one honing steel, one pair of scissors and an 11 slot bamboo block.
  • Weight – 8.5lbs
  • Size – 18.75″ x 8″ x 9″

Pros

  • Excellent steel for this price point
  • Holds an edge extremely well.
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Includes a honing rod
  • Made in Japan
  • Empty slots in the block, so more knives can be added later

Cons

  • Blades are stamped not forged
  • Not full tang

Initially I hesitated to add this set to this article, because the blades are stamped rather than forged. However they are made of  Daido 1K6 steel which is a good quality Japanese steel especially for knives at this price point. There have also been many professional chefs who recommend the Kai Wasabi Black series of knifes as a budget option for restaurant kitchens. The Wasabi Black series has been out for several years, and the knives continue to garner rave reviews from all types of cooks.

Kai is the same company that makes Shun and Kershaw knives, so they have a well respected knife making background, and the Wasabi Black series seems to carry on their great knife making tradition. The knives perform well and have comfortable handles. The traditional style Japanese handles are made of thermoplastic polymer mixed with bamboo powdere and an antibacterial agent to help insure food prep is sanitary.

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Zyliss Control 16 Piece Kitchen Knife Set

The Zyliss Control cutlery set is an innovative and well made kitchen knife block set.

Specifications

  • Set Includes –  one 4.5″ paring knife, one 4.5″  serrated paring knife, one 5,5″ utility knife, one 8″ carving knife, one 8″ chef’ knife, 5″ santoku knife, one 8 bread knife”, six steak knives,  one pair of scissors and a hardwood block.
  • Weight – 7lbs
  • Size – 10.75″ x 8.46″ x 14.76″

Pros

  • 25 Year Warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Forged not stamped (except for the steak knives)
  • Holds an edge extremely well.
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Antibacterial handles
  • Universally sized knife slots
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Set does not include a honing rod
  • Made in China

The Zylus Control set has some innovative features like antibacterial, removable block slots and an indention on the blade of some knives called a “touchpoint” that helps with control when rocking the knife. This set is also one of the few on the market that is actually dishwasher safe. It is made of a high quality but low carbon German steel called  x50CrMoV15. The downside of this steel is that it does not hold it’s edge quite as well as the other knives on this list, but if you need knives that really are dishwasher safe then the Zylus Control set is a great way to go.

The best feature of these knives is the handles. They are by far the most comfortable handles of any set on this list. The finger and thumb rest is a nice feature that is more than a marketing gimmick and the non slip grip sections of the handle make the knife feel really secure when you are cutting. The handles are contoured in a way that seems to work well for all different hand sizes, and the sloped castors make the pinch grip feel comfortable and natural.

Overall this is one of the most well designed sets at any price point. It is obviously not at the same quality level as the more expensive high end kitchen knife sets, but it is a great bargain at the sub $200 price point and should provide many years of use.

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Cangshan S1 Series 8 Piece Kitchen Knife Set

The Cangshan S1 series knives are great quality and offer good value for a budget knife set.

  • Set Includes –  one 3.5″ paring knife, one 5″  serrated utility knife, one 5″ utility knife, one 7″ hollow edge santoku knife, one 8″ chef’ knife, 8″ bread knife, one 8″ honing steel, one pair of scissors and an acacia wood block.
  • Weight – 11.6lbs
  • Size – 17.2″ x 5.2″ x 15.7″

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Full Tang
  • Forged not stamped
  • High quality steel
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • Great looking block

Cons

  • Block has no empty knife slots
  • No steak knives

Cangshan is a relatively new cutlery company, but they have developed a reputation for value in a short period of time. I am personally a big fan of the X50Cr15MoV German steel they use to make their blades, because I think it offers decent rust prevention an good edge retention. Visually this 8-piece S1 series knives set themselves a part from the completion. However that would be meaningless if they id not perform well. Fortunately the S1 knives perform very well. The tapered handles are a comfortable hybrid of Eastern and Western styles that make them easy to grip. The blades hold an ege well and are easy to keep sharp with the included honing rod.

The downside to this set is that it does not ship with steak knives, but Cangshan does make an 18 piece version that includes steaks knives, but costs a little more.

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Cold Steel Kitchen Classics 12 Piece Block Set

The updated CLassic Kitchen Knife Set from Cold Steel are an excellent option at the sub $150 price point.

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 4.5″ paring knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 7″ santoku knife, one 8″ bread knife, one 8″ chef’s knife, eight steak knives, one pair of kitchen shears, and one maple wood block with self sharpening slots.
  • Weight – 4.5 lbs
  • Size – 10″ x 7.5″ x 6″

Pros

  • Comfortable, easy grip handles
  • Sharp blades right out of the box
  • Ice tempered, cryo-quenched stainless steel blades
  • Great Rust Resistance

Cons

  • Blades don’t hold their edge quite as long as other similarly priced cutlery sets
  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as similarly priced cutlery sets. (subjective)
  • Doesn’t ship with a sharpening rod

It may seem strange to include a cutlery set manufactured by a company that primarily makes tactical knives, but the Kitchen Classics set from Cold Steel has the most comfortable and easy to grip handles of any knife set in this price range or just about any price range. This set is growing in popularity with people who suffer from hand discomfort when using standard kitchen knives, and it is also growing in popularity with people who just love the way the handles feel. This set may not look as good as most of the other sets on this list, but looks wont matter much when you are actually using the knives for their intended purpose, because this set really is fun to use for food prep.

Obviously we would not have included the Cold Steel set on this list if the Zy-Ex core handles were it’s only impressive feature. The Kitchen Classics set is well designed, durable and offers impressive corrosion resistance. The main drawback of this set is that the knives do not hold their edge quite as well as the other knives on this list, but if handle comfort and grip are a top priority this set is a great buy. For a more information check out our review of the Cold Steel Kitchen Classics Knife Set.

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Calphalon Contemporary 15-Piece Knife Set With a Sharpening Storage Block

Specifications

  • Set Includes – 1 boning knife, 1 bread knife, 1 chefs knife, 1 paring knife, 1 slicer, 1 utility knife, 1 wood block and six steak knives
  • Weight – 11 lbs
  • Size – 10″ x 7.5″ x 6″

Pros

  • Knives are labeled
  • Sharp blades right out of the box
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Self sharpening block
  • Full tang

Cons

  • Steak knife quality is subpar
  • Chef knife is heavier than most competitors ( not necessarily a bad thing)

Calphalon has not been making knives as long as some of the more established brands in this article like Wusthom and Zwilling, but they have developed a good reputation in a relatively short period of time. The SharpIN™ technology they developed and patented has really made an impact. Especially with people who do not like to sharpen knives. Every time you pull a knife out of the block it automatically sharpens the blade. Each slot has a custom sharpener for the exact knife that fits in that slot. Fortunately the designers at Calphalon had the bright idea to label the handles of each knife to help ensure they go back in the correct slots.

Calphalon definitely helped make knife  maintenance easier, but that really wouldn’t matter if the quality and performance of the knives was lacking. Fortunately that is not the case. The high carbon stainless steel blades hold their edge well and are fairly stain resistant. However, they should be hand washed and never put in the dishwasher. The knives are full tang and forged rather than stamped which means they should last for many years. This knife set is fairly impressive at the sub 200 dollar price point, but it is not perfect. The steak knives are stamped rather than forged, and they are made from a lower quality steel than the rest of the set.

The polyresin handles of the 15 piece Contemporary set are really comfortable and fairly easy to grip. However, they are not as grippy as the Cold Steel knives mentioned above. At one point Calphalon had some quality assurance problems with some of the Contemporary series sets, and there were a few recalls. Fortunately those problems seem to have been dealt with quickly and effectively. By all accounts Calphalon’s customer service is very responsive, and their lifetime warranty should help alleviate any quality concerns. This was the first set we added to this article in 2020, and we would not have done that is we didn’t think Calphalon still had quality assurance problems.

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Zwilling JA Henckels Now S 6 Piece Knife Block Set

This small kitchen knife set is perfect for those who want quality over quantity.

Specifications

  • Set Includes – one 8″ chef knife, one 4″ paring knife, one 8″ bread knife knife, one 8″ sharpening steel,  one pair kitchen shears.
  • weight – 6lbs
  • Size – 9.8″ x 5.2″x 16.8

Pros

  • Sharp right out of the box
  • Better quality steel than most budget knife sets
  • Extremely comfortable handles
  • The set includes a sharpening steel
  • Made in Germany

Cons

  • No steak knives included
  • Not full tang

The Zwilling Now S series is a fairly new product line from J.A. Henckels. They are much lighter weight than the higher end knives from this company, and they ship with a wood block that sits straight up rather than the conventional slanted style that is found on most knife blocks. The lighter weight of the knives is due to the fact that they are not full tang, and the blades are slightly thinner than than most other kitchen knives from Zwilling Henckels. In spite of their thinner size the blades of these knives are still very capable thanks in part to the fact that they are made from a higher quality steel than most other budget knives. The fact that they are not full tang definitely makes their long term durability questionable. and the balance a little off. However the ergonomic polypropylene handles are very comfortable and easy to grip.

The knives and wood blocks are available in a variety of colors, so you have some choices if you are concerned with how this set will fit in with your kitchen decor. The blocks of the “Now S” sets sit straight up which can make it difficult to easily grab a knife if you intend to store the block on a part of the counter that is under a cabinet. Overall the Now S knife set is a good option for anyone that wants quality steel at a good price, and doesn’t need a large knife set.

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Popular Kitchen Knife Types That are Often Included in Knife Sets and What They Are Used For

Kitchen Knife Types and their uses to help shoppers find the best options for their needs.

One of the most important considerations when choosing the ideal knife set under $200 is how big of a set you need. If you are little unsure about the purpose of a santoku or utility knife it is possible that a small cutlery set will meet your needs. This is important, because you can get better quality knives for your $200 budget if you need fewer knives than the standard set contains. You may even want to consider creating a custom cutlery set with the best knives of each type for your needs regardless of brand.  The downside of this set building option is that the knives will not match, but if you value performance over aesthetics the custom knife set building option may be ideal.

Here is a list of popular kitchen knives and their intended purpose to help you pick out the ideal kitchen knife set under $200 for your needs.

  • Chef Knife -The chef’s knife is the all purpose workhorse of any cutlery set. It excels at cutting slicing meat, chopping vegetables and mincing garlic or just about anything else that doesn’t require a small blade. The chef knife is the cornerstone of any good kitchen cutlery set, and it is important for it to be the highest quality knife in the kit.
  • Santoku Knife – The Santoku knife is similar to the chef knife I that is is a multi purpose blade, but it tends to be better at chopping, an not quite as good as slicing especially if you are partial to using a rocking motion when cutting.
  • Carving Knife – The carving knife is designed to slice thin uniform cuts of meat from larger pieces. This is often the knife used to carve a turkey or a chicken. If you and your family do not eat a lot of meat this may be a knife you can skip.
  • Utility Knife – The utility knife is an all purpose knife designed for jobs that require a blade smaller than the chef knife blade but larger than a paring knife blade. Kitchen knife sets often include both a serrated and non serrated versions. Utility knives are great for road trips or camping, because they are small and multi-purpose.
  • Bread Knife – Obviously a bread knife is for cutting bread, so if you and your family are gluten free this may be a knife you don’t need in your set.  
  • Paring Knife -A paring knife is designed for make intricate cuts on smaller items or for slicing and peeling fruit or vegetables. If you eat a lot of tomatoes or often use them in your cooking you may want to consider getting a ceramic paring knife as well as the the stainless steel version that is include in most sets.
  • Boning Knife – A boning knife is thin blade knife designed to debone meat, poultry and fish. If you are a vegetarian this is a knife you do not need to worry about getting a set with a boning knife.

Hope fully this knife type list helps you find the perfect knife set for your needs and within your budget.