If you’re looking to update your kitchen with the best and highest quality kitchen tools and cutlery, you will need to choose products that are affordable, long-lasting and geared toward your needs. After all, you’ll likely be using those items every day, so you’ll need to shop wisely.
A great way to get started is to see what other people have said about the product – for example, looking at Chicago cutlery insignia reviews. Having an excellent set of high quality kitchen knives can make a huge difference in the way you cook and prepare food.
Understanding Kitchen Knives
Kitchen knives are tools used in the process of preparing food, and there are actually a variety of different types of kitchen knives made with an assortment of materials and designs. Whether you’re a novice cook or a professional chef, having a well-made and complete set of knives is a must. Each item in a kitchen knife set has a different use – for example, the Chef’s knife is an all-purpose tool meant to make precise cuts and chops, while a meat knife is designed specifically for carving, slicing, cleaving, or boning.
Choosing the right knife set will depend on how and what you cook. In general, a great knife set will include a paring knife, a boning knife, a utility knife, a serrated knife, a Santoku knife, a slicer knife, a chef’s knife, a pair of shear’s and a set of steak knives (enough for your whole family). Additionally, the set might also include a peeler, a high quality knife block for storage and a durable cutting board.
The Best Way to Use Different Kitchen Knives
According to this nifty chart from University of Minnesota, these are the six main kitchen knife types used in food preparation:
Chef’s knife. This jack-of-all-trades knife can be used for making cuts and chopping hefty items such as meats, large fruits and sizable veggies.
Paring knife. This is a smaller sized knife that’s great for peeling or coring fruit and other smaller sized food items, such as garlic or fresh herbs.
Utility knife. Utility knives are great for medium sized food items, such as cucumbers or large apples that are too big to cut with a paring knife.
Santoku knife. Santoku knives have a special kind of blade (called Granton-style) that is meant for making faster, smoother chopping motions with minimal friction – this is a great knife if you’re dicing or slicing food into very tiny pieces or strips.
Serrated or bread knife. As the name describes, serrated knives have “bumpy teeth”, or serration, that is very useful for cutting bread with a hard crust.
Tomato knife. If you’ve ever tried to cut a tomato or a log of soft salami, you probably had a much easier time if you used a tomato knife, which is serrated but smaller in size than a typical bread knife.
While these are the main essential knives you’ll need for a variety of food prep, there are dozens of other knives to consider, include (but not limited to) boning knives (for separating meat from bone), filleting knife (for filleting fish), slicers (for narrow meat slicing) and cleavers (for heavy chopping of meat). For more information on understanding knife design and maintenance, check out this guide from CIAprochef.com.
Six Features to Look for in Kitchen Knife Sets
1. Blade design. There are two types of blades – forged or stamped. Forged blades are made by heating, beating and molding a rod of high-carbon stainless steel into a blade that is well-balanced and tapered. Stamped blades are made from sheets of stainless steel and have uniform thickness rather than tapering. Forged blades are generally more expensive and less flexible than stamped blades, but they are also stronger and more durable.
2. Handle design. The way you grip your knife can be just as important as how well the blade cuts. Your knife should have a handle that feels comfortable and balanced when you grip it. There are four main handle types, including plastic, wood, santoprene (a rubber-like material) and stainless steel. In general, stainless steel is your best bet for a durable and easily sanitized knife.
3. Blocks, storage and sharpeners. Knives should never be stored freely in a drawer, as this can be a safety hazard and cause damage to the knives. A knife block, which is most commonly made from wood, is what you’ll generally use to store your knives. Additionally, you’ll need to have a way of sharpening your knives, which can come in the form of an in-block sharpener or a stone that you buy separately. Many sets will also include a honing steel, which is meant to give your knives a finer edge.
4. Set diversity. A high quality knife set will have a variety of different knife types and useful features that you can take advantage of in any cooking situations. If you enjoy cooking a lot of specialized meals, you may need to choose a more diverse set that features a wider range of options. Do you plan on breaking down whole chickens or fish? Are you on a budget and simply looking for a basic, high-quality set? How frequently do you plan on using your knives? These are all questions to consider before buying.
5. Customer feedback. If you’re still not sure whether or not a specific knife set is right for you, check out the customer reviews for that product and see what people enjoy about the set or take note of any issues they may be having. Consider what people seem most concerned about and compare that with your personal opinions and interests. Pay attention to any comments regarding how the blade of the knife feels, the quality of sharpness and the ease of maintenance and storage.
In general, you’ll want to find a knife set that can last for many years of daily use without falling apart. Knives will naturally dull over time, but the overall sharpness of your knives will impact how quickly it dulls and how easily it is to re-sharpen. For tips on how to use and sharpen kitchen knives.
Top 5 Product Reviews for Chicago Kitchen Knife Sets
1. Chicago Cutlery Insignia (19-Piece Set)
I was attracted to this set right away because it had a whopping 19 pieces in the whole thing. I also really liked the look of the wooden block – not to mention it actually comes with a matching cutting board! Even though I already have one, it was still nice for the set to include one because it made everything feel more complete. Considering you get all of this, the price is pretty good. Not to mention it comes with an in-block sharpener, which is really convenient if you’re a busy person who doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen like me!
The set arrived on time and I was surprised at how nice the contoured grip of the knives felt in my hand. My only real issue was that the logo on the knife block seemed a bit crooked. Overall, I love that all the knives are stainless steel because they’re easily sanitized. I’m not a huge fan of the steak knives since I prefer to have serrated edges, but they seem to be staying pretty sharp. Overall, I highly recommend this set for the fair price and high quality! 5.0/5.0 Stars.
- Contoured handle that feels natural
- Fair price considering everything you get
- All stainless steel
- In-block sharpener
- Lower quality knife block
- Steak knives aren’t serrated
2. J.A. Henckels International Statement (15-Piece Set)
I thought this set was German made, but upon further research I found that it’s not, unlike other Henckel products I’ve seen. After seeing all of the good reviews for this set, I finally decided to order it despite it being somewhat pricey for my budget and the knives being pressed, not forged. I love that it has 15 pieces and everything I need, including two different sizes of santoku knives (my favorite knife type).
Another thing that really hooked me on this set was the fact that it’s dishwasher safe! I honestly hate manually washing dishes, so I felt like this was a good choice for me. After receiving the set, I liked that the hardwood block felt heavy and durable. Although I don’t mind the appearance of the black handles, I’m not the biggest fan because they aren’t stainless steel. I like that the steak knives are serrated because I’m lazy and I don’t like to have to constantly sharpen the knives. In general I would recommend this set if you like lower-maintenance knives that are still decent quality. 4.0/5.0 Stars.
- Dishwasher safe
- Everything I need
- Two different sized santoku knives
- Serrated steak knives
- Not as high quality as other Henckels I’ve seen (made in China)
- The handles aren’t steel
- Pressed instead of forged
3. Cuisinart (17-Piece Set)
I had heard a lot about this brand and saw that this set was a best seller on Amazon, so I decided to order it. The normal price is pretty steep but I was able to get it on sale. I love this set! It looks really beautiful – sleek all stainless steel knives and a black knife box that looks great in my kitchen. The hollow handles are pretty lightweight and feel comfortable in my grip. However I am disappointed that I can’t clean them in the dishwasher because I’m too afraid they will start to develop rust spots.
I really love the little “Bird’s Beak” paring knife and I find it really useful for cutting small fruit easily while I’m on the go. The steak knives are not serrated so I’ve been trying to keep them sharp. Sadly there is no in-block sharpener – I had to buy one separately. If you don’t mind keeping up with sharpening your knives, I really recommend this set based on how sleek and modern it looks and the quality of the stainless steel. 4.0/5.0 Stars.
- Hollow handles/lightweight
- All stainless steel knives
- Black, modern-looking knife block
- Great price when it’s on sale
- Need sharpened frequently
- No included sharpener
- Not dishwasher safe
4. Calphalon Classic (15-Piece Set)
This set had a lot of good reviews and had everything I needed as a home cook, so I decided to buy it for a fair price when it was on sale. If you love having your knives sharpened before every use like I do, this is a good set because it contains its own self-sharpening feature in the wooden block. My favorite thing about these knives is the fact that they have labels on them! This is a great feature if you’re new to cooking and like to have visual aids.
There’s also an extra slot in the block which can come in handy if you have a solo favorite knife. Although I love the fact that these knives are forged, they don’t have stainless steel handles. Also, the steak knives are stamped, so I’m worried they’re not going to hold up for as long as the other pieces. My biggest issue is probably with the shears because they are dull and feel really uncomfortable in my grip. I would definitely recommend this set if you like the idea of having forged and labeled knives with a self-sharpening block. 4.5/5.0 Stars.
- Self-sharpening block
- Forged and strong
- Knives have labels
- Extra knife slot
- Steak knives are stamped
- The shears are low quality
- Handles not stainless steel
5. Utopia Kitchen Premium Class (12-Piece Set)
This set caught my eye right away because it has a really unique acrylic stand rather than your typical wooden block. I just updated to a more modern kitchen and this set with the clear glass stand looks really cool and clean. I was sold on the fact that the knives were all stainless steel and I was able to get it on sale for a great price. I liked that this set had all the basics, including six steak knives which is all my family really needs. However, I wouldn’t really recommend this set if you are a more advanced chef wanting a larger variety.
Unfortunately these knives cannot be washed in the dishwasher so you have to keep up on making sure they’re dry. A big downfall of this set is that it has no shears or honing steel that you would find in a normal set. If you like having lots of options for cutlery but you don’t like sharpening your knives manually, this set probably isn’t a good choice. However, I recommend these if you’re looking for the basics with a unique appearance at an affordable price. 4.0/5.0 Stars.
- Unique acrylic stand
- Stainless steel blades and handles
- Great price
- Six steak knives instead of eight
- No honing steel or shears
- No self-sharpener
- Not dishwasher safe
The Best 2017 Knife Sets Based On Price and Quality
When adding up all of the pros and cons for these five different knife sets, there appears to be somewhat of a tie between the Chicago Cutlery Insignia and the Calphalon Classic. The Chicago Cutlery block is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable, all stainless steel set with an in-block sharpener for easy use. If you’d like a set of strong, self-sharpening forged knives that have labels on them, Calphalon is a good option.
Based on the pros and the Chicago Cutlery Insignia reviews, the clear winner goes to Chicago Cutlery based on the fair price, self-sharpening feature and forged, stainless steel blades. If you plan on using your knives and cutlery for several years to come, you’ll want to choose a strong and sanitary knife set that also gives you a variety of options and convenient sharpening features – that’s why Chicago Cutlery is a great option to consider for your lifelong knife set!